My Study       
Benno Zuiddam















The Holy Spirit in connection with our Ministry


The necessity of Ministerial Progress


The need of Decision for the Truth


Open Air Preaching — a Sketch of its History


Open Air Preaching — Remarks thereon


Posture, Action, Gesture, etc.


Posture, Action, Gesture, etc. (Second Lecture).

Illustrations of Action


Earnestness: its Marring and Maintenance


The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear


On Conversion as our Aim





I have selected a topic upon which it would be difficult to say anything

which has not been often said before; but as the theme is of the highest

importance it is good to dwell upon it frequently, and even if we bring

forth only old things and nothing more, it may be wise to put you in

remembrance of them. Our subject is “THE HOLY SPIRIT IN CONNECTION

WITH OUR MINISTRY,” or-the work of the Holy Ghost in relation to

ourselves as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I believe in the Holy Ghost.” Having pronounced that sentence as a

matter of creed, I hope we can also repeat it as a devout soliloquy forced

to our lips by personal experience. To us the presence and work of the

Holy Spirit are the ground of our confidence as to the wisdom and

hopefulness of our life work. If we had not believed in the Holy Ghost we

should have laid down our ministry long ere this, for” who is sufficient for

these things?” Our hope of success, and our strength for continuing the

service, lie in our belief that the Spirit of the Lord resteth upon us.

I will for the time being take it for granted that we are all of us conscious

of the existence of the Holy Spirit. We have said we believe in him; but in

very deed we have advanced beyond faith in tiffs matter, and have come

into the region of consciousness. Time was when most of us believed in the

existence of our present friends, for we had heard of them by the heating of

the ear, but we have now seen each other, and returned the fraternal grip,

and felt the influence of happy companionship, and therefore we do not

now so much believe as know. Even so we have felt the Spirit of God

operating upon our hearts, we have known and perceived the power which

he wields over human spirits, and we know him by frequent, conscious,

personal contact. By the sensitiveness of our spirit we are as much made

conscious of the presence of the Spirit of God as we are made cognizant of

the existence of the souls of our fellow-men by their action upon our souls,

or as we: are certified of the existence of matter by its action upon our


senses. We have been raised from the dull sphere of mere mind and matter

into the heavenly radiance of the spirit-world; and now, as spiritual men,

we discern spiritual things, we feel the forces which are paramount in the

spirit-realm, and we know that there is a Holy Ghost, for we feel him

operating upon our spirits. If it were not so, we should certainly have no

right to be in the ministry of Christ’s church. Should we even dare to

remain in her membership? But, my brethren, we have been spiritually

quickened. We are distinctly conscious of a new life, with all that comes

out; of it: we are new creatures in Christ Jesus, and dwell in a new world.

We have been illuminated, and made to behold the things which eye hath

not seen; we have been guided into truth such as flesh and blood could

never have revealed. We have been comforted of the Spirit: full often have

we been lifted up from the deeps of sorrow to the heights of joy by the

sacred Paraclete. We have also, in a measure, been sanctified by him; and

we are conscious that the operation of sanctification is going on in ‘as in

different forms and ways. Therefore, because of all these personal

experiences, we know that there is a Holy Ghost, as surely as we know

that we ourselves exist.

I am tempted to linger here, ;for the point is worthy of longer notice.

Unbelievers ask for phenomena. The old business doctrine of Gradgrind

has entered into religion, and the skeptic cries, “What I want is facts.”

These are our facts: let us not forget to use them. A skeptic challenges me

with the remark, “I cannot pin my faith to a book or a history; I want to

see present facts.” My reply is,” You cannot see them, because your eyes

are blinded; but the facts are there none the less. Those of us who have

eyes see marvelous things, though you do not.” If he ridicules my

assertion, I am not at all astonished. I expected him to do so, and should

have been very much surprised if he had not done so; but I demand respect

to my own position as a witness to facts, and I turn upon the objector with

the inquiry — “What right have you to deny my evidence? If I were a blind

man, and were told by you that you possessed a faculty called sight, I

should be unreasonable if I railed at you as a conceited enthusiast. All you

have a right to say is — that you know nothing about it, but you are not;

authorized to call us all liars or dupes. You may join with revelers of old

and declare that the spiritual man is mad, but that does not disprove his

statements.” Brethren, to me the phenomena which are produced by the

Spirit of God demonstrate the truth of the Christian religion as clearly as

ever the destruction of Pharaoh at the Red Sea, or the fall of manna in the


wilderness, or the water leaping from the smitten rock, could have proved

to Israel the presence of God in the midst of her tribes.

We will now’ come to the core of our subject. To us, as ministers, the Holy

Spirit is absolutely essential. Without him our office is a mere name. We

claim no priesthood over and above that which belongs to every child of

God; but we are the successors of those who, in olden times, were moved

of God to declare his word, to testify against transgression, and to plead

his cause. Unless we have the spirit of the prophets resting upon us, the

mantle which we wear is nothing but a rough garment to deceive. We

ought to be driven forth with abhorrence from the society of honest men

for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if the Spirit of God rests not

upon us. We believe ourselves to be spokesmen for Jesus Christ, appointed

to continue his witness upon earth; but upon him and his testimony the

Spirit of God always rested, and if it does not rest upon us, we are

evidently not sent forth into the world as he was. At Pentecost the

commencement of the great work of converting the world was with

flaming tongues and a rushing mighty wind, symbols of the presence of the

Spirit; if, therefore, we think to succeed without the Spirit, we are not after

the Pentecostal order. If we have not the Spirit which ‘Jesus promised, we

cannot perform the commission which Jesus gave.

I need scarcely warn any brother here against falling into the delusion that

we may have the Spirit so as to become inspired. Yet the members of a

certain litigious modern sect need to be warned against this folly. They

hold that their meetings are under “the presidency of the Holy Spirit :”

concerning which notion I can only say that I have been unable to discover

in holy Scripture either the term or the idea. I do find in the New

Testament a body of Corinthians eminently gifted, fond of speaking:, and

given to party strifes — true representatives of those to whom I allude, but

as Paul said of them, “I thank God I baptized none of you,” so also do I

thank the Lord that few of that school have ever been found in our midst.

It would seem that their assemblies possess a peculiar gift of inspiration,

not quite perhaps amounting to infallibility, but nearly approximating

thereto. If you have mingled in their gatherings, I greatly question whether

you have been more edified by the prelections produced under celestial

presidency, than you have been by those of ordinary preachers of the

Word, who only consider themselves to be under the influence of the Holy

Spirit, as one spirit is under the influence of another spirit, or one mind

under the influence of another mind.. We are not the passive


communicators of infallibility, but the honest teachers of such things as we

have learned, so far as we have been able to grasp them. As our minds are

active, and have a personal existence while the mind of the Spirit is acting

upon them, our infirmities are apparent as well as his wisdom; and while

we reveal what he has made us to know, we are greatly abased by the feat’

that our own ignorance and error ax in a measure manifested at the same

time, because we have not been more perfectly subject to the divine power.

I do not suspect that you will go astray in the direction I have hinted at:

certainly the results of previous experiments are not likely to tempt; wise

men to that folly.

This is our first question. Wherein may we look for the aid of the Holy

Spirit? When we have spoken on this point, we will, very solemnly,

consider a second — How may we lose that assistance? Let us pray that,

by God’s blessing, this consideration may help us to retain it.

Wherein may we look for the aid of the Holy Spirit? I should reply, — .in

seven or eight ways.

1. First, he is the Spirit of knowledge, —“He shall guide you into all

truth.” In this character we need his teaching.

We have urgent need to study, for the teacher of others must himself be

instructed. Habitually to come into the pulpit unprepared is unpardonable

presumption: nothing can more effectually lower ourselves and our office.

After a visitation discourse by the Bishop of Lichfield upon the necessity of

earnestly studying the Word, a certain vicar told his lordship that he could

not believe his doctrine,. “for,.” said he, “often when I am in the vestry I do

not know what I am going to talk about; but I go into the pulpit and

preach, and think nothing of it.” His lordship replied, “And you ax quite

right in thinking nothing of it, for your churchwardens have told me that

they share your opinion.” If we are not instructed, how can we instruct? If

we have not thought, how shall we lead others to think? It is in our studywork,

in that blessed labor when we are alone with the Book before us,

that we need the help of the Holy Spirit. He holds the key of the heavenly

treasury, and can enrich us beyond conception; he has the clue of the most

labyrinthine doctrine, and can lead us in the way of truth. He can break in

pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and give to us

the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places. If you study

the original, consult the commentaries, and meditate deeply, yet if you

neglect to cry mightily unto the Spirit of God your study will not profit


you; but; even if you are debarred the use of helps (which I trust you will

not be), if you wait upon the Holy Ghost in simple dependence upon his

teaching, you will lay hold of very much of the divine meaning.

The Spirit of God is peculiarly precious to us, because he especially

instructs us as to the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that is

the main point of our preaching. He takes of the things of Christ, and

shows them unto us. If he had taken of the things of doctrine or precept,

we should have been glad of such gracious assistance; but since he

especially delights in the things of’ Christ, and focuses his sacred light upon

the cross, we rejoice to see the center of our testimony so divinely

illuminated, and we are sure that the light will be diffused over all the rest

of our ministry. Let us wait upon the Spirit of God with this cry — “O

Holy Spirit, reveal to us the Son of God, and thus show us the Father.”

As the Spirit of knowledge, he not only instructs us as to the gospel, but he

leads us to see the Lord in all other matters. We are not, to shut our eyes

to God in nature, or to God in general history, or to God in the daily

occurrences of providence, or to God in our own experience; and the

blessed Spirit is the interpreter to as of the mind of God in all these. If we

cry, “Teach me what thou wouldst have me to do; or, show me wherefore

thou contendest with me; or, tell me what is thy mind in this precious

providence of mercy, or in that other dispensation of mingled judgment and

grace,” — we shall in each case be well instructed; for the Spirit is the

seven-branched candlestick of the sanctuary, and by his light all things are

rightly seen. As Goodwin well observes, “There must be light to

accompany the truth if we are to know it,. The experience of all gracious

men proves this. What is the reason that; you shall ;see some things in a

chapter at one time, and not at another; some grace in your hearts at one

time, and not; at; another; have a sight of spiritual things at one time, and

not, at another? The eye is the same, but it is the Holy Ghost that openeth

and shutteth this dark lantern, as I may so call it; as he openeth it wider, or

contracts it, or shutteth it narrower, so do We see more or less: and

sometimes he shutteth it wholly, and then the soul is in darkness, though it

have never so good an eye.”

Beloved brethren, wait upon him for it, is light, or you will abide in

darkness and become blind leaders of the blind.

2. In the second place, the Spirit. is called the Spirit of wisdom, and we

greatly need him in that capacity; for knowledge may be dangerous if


unaccompanied with wisdom, which is the art of rightly using what we

know. Rightly to divide the Word of God is as important as fully to

understand it, for some who have evidently understood a part of the gospel

have given undue prominence to that one portion of it, and have therefore

exhibited a distorted Christianity, to the injury of those who have received

it, since they in their turn have exhibited a distorted character in

consequence thereof. A man’s nose is a prominent feature in his face, but it

is possible to make it so large that eyes and mouth, and everything else are

thrown into insignificance, and the drawing is a caricature and not a

portrait: so certain important doctrines of the gospel can be so proclaimed

in excess as to throw the rest, of truth into the shade, and the preaching is

no longer the gospel in its natural beauty, but a caricature of the truth, of

which caricature, however, let me say, some people seem to be mightily

fond. The Spirit of God will teach you the use of the sacrificial knife to

divide the offerings; and he will show you how to use the balances of the

sanctuary so as to weigh out and mix the precious spices in their proper

quantities. Every experienced preacher feels this to be of’ the utmost

moment, and it is well if he is able to resist all temptation to neglect it.

Alas, some of our hearers do not desire to hinder the whole counsel of

God. They have their favorite doctrines, and ‘would have us silent on all

besides. Many are like the Scotchwoman, who, after hearing a sermon,

said, “It was very well if it; hadna been for the trash of duties at the binney

end.” There are brethren of that kind; they enjoy the comforting part — the

promises and the doctrines, but practical holiness must scarcely be touched

upon. Faithfulness requires us to give them a foursquare gospel, from

which nothing is omitted, and in which nothing is exaggerated, and for this

much wisdom is requisite. I gravely question whether any of us have so

much of this wisdom as we need. We are probably afflicted by some

inexcusable partialities and unjustifiable leanings; let us search them out

and have done with them. We may be conscious of having passed by

certain texts, not because we do not understand them (which might be

justifiable), but because we do understand them, and hardly like to say

what they have taught us, or because there may be some imperfection in

ourselves, or some prejudice among our hearers which those texts would

reveal too clearly for our comfort. Such sinful silence must be ended

forthwith. To be wise stewards and bring forth the right portions of meat

for our Master’s household we need thy teaching, O Spirit of the Lord!


Nor is this all, for even if we know how rightly to divide the Word of God,

we want wisdom in the selection of the particular part of truth which is

most applicable to the season and to the people assembled; and equal

discretion in the tone and manner in which the doctrine shall be presented.

I believe that many brethren who preach human responsibility deliver

themselves in so legal a manner as to disgust all those who love the

doctrines of grace. On the other hand, I fear that; many have preached the

God in such a way as to drive all persons who sovereignty of believe in

man’s free agency entirely away from the Calvinistic side. We should not

hide truth for a moment, but we should have wisdom so to preach it that

there shall be no needless jarring or offending;, but a gradual enlightenment

of those who cannot see it, at all, and a leading of weaker brethren into the

full circle of gospel doctrine.

Brethren, we; also need wisdom in the way of putting things different

people. You can cast a man down with the very truth which was intended

to build him up. You can sicken a man with the honey with which you

meant to sweeten his mouth. The great mercy of God has been preached

unguardedly, and has led hundreds into licentiousness; and, on the other

hand, the terrors of the Lord have been occasionally fulminated with such

violence that they have driven men into despair, and so into a settled

defiance of the Most High. Wisdom is profitable to direct, and he who hath

it brings forth each truth in its season, dressed in its most appropriate

garments. Who can give us this wisdom but the blessed Spirit? O, my

brethren, see to it, that in lowliest reverence you wait for his direction.

3. Thirdly, we need the Spirit in another manner, namely, as the live coal

from off the altar, touching our lips, so that when we have knowledge and

wisdom to select the fitting portion of truth, we may enjoy freedom of

utterance when we come to deliver it. “Lo, coals hath touched thy lips.”

Oh, how gloriously a man speaks when his lips are blistered with the live

coal from the altar — feeling the burning power of the truth, not only in his

inmost; soul, but on the very lip with which he is speaking! Mark at such

times how his very utterance quivers. Did you not notice in the prayermeeting

just now, in two of the suppliant brethren, how their tones were

tremulous, and their bodily frames were quivering, because not only were

their hearts touched, as I hope all our hearts were, but their lips were

touched, and their speech was thereby affected. Brethren, we need the


Spirit of God to open our mouths that we may show forth the praises of

the Lord, or else we shall not speak with power.

We need the divine influence to keep us back from saying many things

which, if they actually left our tongue, would mar our message. Those of

us who are endowed with the dangerous gift of humor have need,

sometimes, to stop and take the word out of our mouth and look at it, and

see whether it is quite to edification; and those whose previous lives have

borne them among the coarse and the rough had need watch with lynx eyes

against indelicacy. Brethren, far be it from us to utter a syllable which

would suggest an impure thought, or raise a questionable memory. We

need the Spirit of God to put bit and bridle upon us to keep us from saying

that which would take the minds of our hearers away from Christ and

eternal realities, and set them thinking upon the groveling things of earth.

Brethren, we require the Holy Spirit also to incite us in our utterance. I

doubt not you are all conscious of different states of mind in preaching.

Some of those states arise from your body being in different conditions. A

bad cold will not only spoil the clearness of the voice, but freeze the flow

of the thoughts. For my own part if I cannot speak clearly I am unable to

think clearly, and the matter becomes hoarse as well as the voice. The

stomach, also, and all the other organs of the body, affect the mind; but it

is not to these things that I allude. Are you not conscious of changes

altogether independent of the body? When you are in robust health do you

not find yourselves one day as heavy as Pharaoh’s chariots with the wheels

taken off, and at another ‘time as much at liberty as “a hind let loose”? Today

yore’ branch glitters with the dew, yesterday it was parched with

drought. Who knoweth not that the Spirit of God is in all this? The divine

Spirit will sometimes work upon us so as to bear us completely out of

ourselves. From the beginning of the sermon to the end we might of such

times say, “Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God

knoweth.” Everything has been forgotten but the one all-engrossing subject

in hand. If I were forbidden to enter heaven, but were permitted to select

my ‘state for all eternity, I should choose to be as I sometimes fed in

preaching the gospel. Heaven is foreshadowed in such a state: the mind

shut out from all disturbing influences, adoring the majestic and

consciously present God, every faculty aroused and .joyously excited to its

utmost capability, all the thoughts and powers of the soul joyously

occupied in contemplating the glory ,of the Lord, and extolling to listening

crowds the Beloved of our soul; and all the while the purest conceivable


benevolence towards one’s fellow creatures urging the heart to plead with

them on God’s behalf — what state of mind can rival this? Alas, we have

reached this ideal, but we cannot always maintain it, for we know also

What it is to preach in chains, or beat the air. We may not attribute holy

and happy changes in our ministry to anything less than the action of the

Holy Spirit upon our souls. I am sure the Spirit does so work. Often and[

often, when I have had doubts suggested by the infidel, I have been able to

fling them to the winds with utter scorn, because I am distinctly conscious

of a power working upon me when I am speaking in the name of the Lord,

infinitely transcending any personal power of fluency, and far surpassing

any energy derived from excitement such as I have felt when delivering a

secular lecture or making a speech — ,;o utterly distinct from such power

that I am quite certain it is not of the same order or class as the enthusiasm

of the politician or the glow of the orator. May we full often feel the divine

energy, and speak with power.

4. But then, fourthly, the Spirit of God acts also as an anointing o//, and

this relates to the entire delivery — not to the utterance merely from the

mouth, but to the whole delivery of the discourse. He can make you feel

your subject till it thrills you, and you become depressed by it so as; to be

crushed into the earth, or elevated by it so as to be borne upon its eagle

wings; making you feel, besides your subject, your object, till you yearn for

the conversion of men and for the uplifting of Christians to something

nobler than they have known as yet. At the same time, another feeling is

with you, namely, an intense desire that God may be glorified through the

truth which you are delivering. You are conscious of a deep sympathy with

the people to whom you are speaking, making you mourn over some of

them because they know so little, and over others because they have

known much, but have rejected it. You look into some faces, and your

heart silently says., “The dew is dropping there;” and, turning to others,

you sorrowfully perceive that they are as Gilboa’s dewless mountain. All

this will be going on during the discourse. We cannot tell. how many

thoughts can traverse the mind at once. I once counted eight sets of

thoughts which were going on in my brain simultaneously, or at least

within the space of the same second. I was preaching the gospel with all

my might, but could not help feeling for a lady who was evidently about to

faint, and also} looking out for our brother who opens the windows that he

might give us more air. I was thinking of that illustration which I had

omitted under the first head, casting the form of the second division,


wondering if A felt my rebuke, and praying that B might get comfort from

the consoling observation, and at the same time praising God for my own

personal enjoyment of the truth I was proclaiming. Some interpreters

consider the cherubim with their four faces to be emblems of ministers, and

assuredly I see no difficulty in the quadruple form, for the sacred Spirit can

multiply our menial states, and make us many times the men we are by

nature. How much he can make of us, and how grandly he can elevate us, I

will not dare to surmise: certainly, he can do exceeding abundantly above

what we ask or even think.

Especially is it the Holy Spirit’s work to maintain in us a devotional frame

of mind whilst we are discoursing. This is a condition to be greatly coveted

— to continue praying while you are occupied with preaching; to do the

Lord’s commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word; to keep the

eye on the throne, and the wing in perpetual motion. I hope we know what

this means; I am sure we know, or may soon experience, its opposite,

namely, the evil of preaching in an undevotional spirit. What can be worse

than to speak under the influence of a proud or angry spirit? What more

weakening than to preach in an unbelieving spirit? But, oh, to bum in our

secret heart while we blaze before the eyes of others I This is the work .of

the Spirit of God. Work it in us, O adorable Comforter!

In our pulpits we need the spirit of dependence to be mixed with that of

devotion, so that all along, from the first word to the last syllable, we may

be looking up to the strong for strength. It is well to feel that though you

have continued up to the present point, yet if the Holy Spirit were to leave

you., you would play the fool ere the sermon closed. Looking to the hills

whence cometh your help all the sermon through, with absolute

dependence upon God, you will preach in a brave, confident spirit all the

while. Perhaps I was wrong to say “brave,” for it is not a brave thing to

trust God: to true believers it is a simple matter of sweet necessity — how

cart they help trusting him? ‘Wherefore should they doubt their ever

faithful Friend? I told my people the other morning, when preaching from

the text, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” that for the first time in my life I

experienced what Abraham felt when he fell upon his face and laughed. I

was riding home, very weary with a long week’s work, when there came to

my’ mind this text — ” My grace is sufficient for thee :” but it came with

the emphasis laid upon two words: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” My

soul said, “Doubtless it is. Surely the grace of the infinite God is more than

sufficient for such a mere insect as I am,” and I laughed, and laughed again,


to think how far the supply exceeded all my needs. It seemed to me as.

though I were a. little fish in the sea, and in my thirst I said, “Alas, I .,;hall

drink up the ocean.” Then the Father of the waters lifted up his head

sublime, and smilingly replied, “Little fish, the boundless main is sufficient

for thee.” The thought made. unbelief appear supremely ridiculous, as

indeed it is. Oh, brethren, we ought to preach feeling that God means to

bless the word, for we have his promise for it; and when we have done

preaching we should look out for the people who have, received a blessing.

Do. you ever say’, “I am overwhelmed with astonishment to find that: the

Lord has converted souls through my poor ministry”? Mock humility’ I

Your ministry is poor enough. Everybody knows that, and you ought to

know it most of all: but, at the same time, is it any wonder that God, who

said “My word shall not return unto, me void,’:’ has kept his promise,? Is

the meat to lose its nourishment because the dish is a poor platter? Is

divine grace to be .overcome by our infirmity? No, but we have this

treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God

and not of us.

We need the Spirit of God, then, all through the sermon to keep .our hearts

and minds in a proper condition, for if we have not the right spirit we shall

lose the tone which persuades and prevails, and our people will discover

that Samson’s strength has departed from him. Some speak scoldingly, and

so betray their bad temper; others preach themselves, and so reveal their

pride. Some discourse as though it were a condescension on their part to

occupy the pulpit, while others preach as though they apologized for their

,existence.. ‘.to avoid errors of manners and tone, we must be led of the

Holy Spirit, who alone teacheth us to profit.

5. Fifthly, we depend entirely upon the Spirit of God to produce ,actual

effect: from the gospel, and at this effect we must always aim. We do not

stand up in our pulpits to display our skill in spiritual sword play, but We

come to actual fighting: our object is to drive the sword of the Spirit

through men’s hearts. If preaching can ever in any sense be viewed as a

public exhibition, it should be like the exhibition of a ploughing match,

which consists in actual ploughing. The competition does not lie in the

appearance of the ploughs, but in the work done; so let ministers be judged

by the way in which they drive the gospel plough, and cut the furrow from

end to end of the field. Always aim at effect. “Oh,” says one, “I thought

you would have said, ‘ Never do that.’“ I do also say, never aim at effect,

in the unhappy sense of that expression. Never aim at effect after the


manner of the climax makers, poetry quoters, handkerchief manipulators,

and bombast blowers. Far better for a man that he had never been born

than that he should degrade a pulpit into a show box to exhibit himself in.

Aim at the right sort of effect; the inspiring of saints to nobler things, the

leading of Christians closer to their Master, the comforting of doubters till

they rise out of their terrors, the repentance of sinners, and their exercise of

immediate faith in Christ. Without these signs following, what. is the use of

our sermons? It would be a miserable thing to have to say with a certain

archbishop, “I have passed through many places of honor and trust, both in

Church and State, more than any of my order in England, for seventy years

before; but were I assured that by my preaching I had but converted one

soul to God, I should herein take more comfort that in all the honored

offices that have been bestowed upon me.” Miracles of grace must be the

seals of’ our ministry; who can bestow them but the Spirit of God?

Convert a soul without the Spirit of’ God! Why, you cannot even make a

fly, much less create a new heart and a right spirit. Lead the children of

God to a higher life without the Holy Ghost! You are inexpressibly more

likely to conduct them into carnal security, if you attempt their elevation by

any method of your own. Our ends can never be gained if” we miss the

cooperation of the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, with Strong crying and

tears, wait upon him from day to day.

The lack of distinctly recognizing the power of the Holy Ghost lies at the

root; of many useless ministries. The forcible words of Robert Hall are as

true now as when he poured them forth like molten lava upon a semisocinian

generation. “On the one hand it deserves attention, that the most

eminent and successful preachers of the gospel in different communities, a

Brainerd, a Baxter, and a Schwartz, have been the most conspicuous for

simple dependence on spiritual aid; and on the other that no success

whatever has attended the ministrations of those by whom this doctrine has

been either neglected or denied. They have met with such a rebuke of their

presumption, in the total failure of their efforts, that none will contend for

the reality of Divine interposition, as far as they are concerned; for when

has the arm of the Lord been revealed to those pretended teachers of

Christi-unity, who believe there is no such arm? We must leave them to

labor in a field respecting which God has commanded the clouds not to

rain upon it. As if conscious of this, of late they have turned their efforts

into a new channel, and despairing of the conversion of sinners, have

confined themselves to the seduction of the faithful in which, it must be


confessed, they have acted in a manner perfectly consistent with their

principles; the propagation of heresy requiring, at least, no divine


6. Next we need the Spirit of God as the Spirit of supplications, who

maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. A very

important part of our lives consists in praying in the Holy Ghost:, and that

minister who does not think so had better escape from his ministry.

Abundant prayer must go with earnest preaching. We cannot be always on

the knees of the body, but the soul should never leave the posture of

devotion. The habit of prayer is good, but the spirit of prayer is better.

Regular retirement is to be maintained, but continued communion with

God is to be our aim. As a rule, we ministers ought never to be many

minutes without actually lifting up our hearts in prayer. Some of us could

honestly say that we are seldom a quarter of an hour without speaking to

God, and that not as a duty but as an instinct, a habit of the new nature for

which we claim no more credit than a babe does for crying after its mother.

How could we do otherwise? Now, if we are to be much in the spirit of

prayer, we need secret oil to be poured upon the sacred fire of our heart’s

devotion; we want to be again and again visited by the Spirit; of grace and

of supplications.

As to our prayers in public, let it never be truthfully said that they are

official, formal, and cold; yet they will be so if’ the supply of the Spirit be

scant. Those who use a liturgy I judge not; but to those who are

accustomed to free prayer I say, — you cannot pray acceptably in public

year after year without the Spirit of God; dead praying will become

offensive to the people long before that time. What then? Whence shall our

help come? Certain weaklings have said, “Let us have a liturgy!” Rather

than seek divine aid thee’ will go down to Egypt for help. Rather than be

dependent upon the Spirit of God, they will pray by a book! For my part,

if’ I cannot pray, I would rather know it, and groan over my soul’s

barrenness till the Lord shall again visit me with fruitfulness of devotion. If

you are filled with the Spirit, you will be glad to throw off all formal

fetters, that you may commit yourself to the sacred current, to be. borne

along till you find waters to swim in. Sometimes you will enjoy closer

fellowship with God in prayer in the pulpit than you have known anywhere

else. To me my greatest secrecy in prayer has often been in public; my

truest loneliness with God has occurred to me while pleading in the midst

of thousands. I have opened my eyes at the close of a prayer and come


back to the assembly with a sort of a shock at finding myself Upon earth

and among men. Such seasons are not at our command., neither can we

raise ourselves into such conditions ;by any preparations or efforts. How

blessed they are both to the minister and his people no tongue can tell I

How full of power and blessing habitual prayerfulness must also be I

cannot here ‘pause to declare, but for it all we must look to the Holy Spirit,

and blessed be God we shall not look in vain, for it is especially said of him

that he helpeth ore’ infirmities in prayer.

7. Furthermore, it is important that we be under the influence of the Holy

Ghost, as he is the Spirit of holiness; for a very considerable and essential

part of Christian ministry lies in example. Our people take much note of

what we say out of the pulpit, and what we do in the social circle and

elsewhere. Do you find it easy, my brethren, to be saints? — such saints

that others may regard you as; examples? We ought to be such husbands

that every husband in the parish may safely be such as we are. Is it so? We

ought to be the best of fathers. Alas! some ministers, to my knowledge, are

far from thin, for an to their families, they have kept the vineyards of

others, but their own vineyards they have not kept. Their children are

neglected, and do not grow up as a godly seed. Is it so with yours? In our

converse with our fellow men are we blameless and harmless, the sons of

God without rebuke? Such We ought to be. I admire Mr. Whitfield’s

reasons for always having his linen scrupulously dean. “No, no,” he would

say, “these are not trifles; a minister must be without spot, even in his

garments, if he can.” Purity cannot be carried too far in a minister. You

have known an unhappy brother bespatter himself, and you have

affectionately aided in removing the spots, but you have felt that it would

have been better had the garments been always white. O to keep ourselves

unspotted from the world! How can this be in such a scene of temptation,

and with such besetting sins unless we are preserved by superior power? If

you are to walk in all holiness and purity, as be-cometh ministers of the

gospel, you must be daily baptized into the Spirit of God.

8. Once again, we need the Spirit as a Spirit of discernment, for he knows

the minds of men as he knows the mind of God, and we need this very

much in dealing with difficult characters. There are in this world some

persons who might possibly be allowed to preach, but they should never be

suffered to become pastors. They have a mental or spiritual

disqualification. In the church of San Zeno, at Verona, I saw the statue of

that saint in a sitting posture, and the artist has given him knees so short


that he has no lap whatever, so that he could not have been a nursing

father. I fear there are many others who labor under a similar disability:

they cannot bring their minds to enter heartily into the pastoral care. They

can dogmatize upon a doctrine, and controvert upon an ordinance, but as

to sympathizing with an experience, it; is far from them. Cold comfort can

such render to afflicted consciences; their advice will be equally valuable

with that of the highlander who is reported to have seen an Englishman

sinking in a bog on Ben Nevis. “I am sinking!” cried the traveler. “Can

you tell me how to get out?” The highlander’ calmly replied, “I think it is

likely you never will,” and walked away. We have known ministers of that

kind, puzzled, and almost annoyed with sinners struggling in the slough of

despond. If you and I, untrained in the shepherd’s art, were placed among

the ewes and young lambs in the early spring, what should we do with

them’!! In some such perplexity are those found who have never been

taught of the Holy Spirit how to care for the souls of men. May his

instructions save us from such wretched incompetence.

Moreover, brethren, whatever our tenderness of heart, or loving anxiety,

we shall not know how to deal with the vast variety of cases unless the

Spirit of God shall direct us, for no two individuals are alike; and even the

stone case will require different treatment at different times. At one period

it may be best to console, at another to rebuke; and the person with whom

you sympathized even to tears to-day may need that you confront him with

a frown to-morrow, for trifling with the consolation which you presented.

Those who bind up the broken-hearted, and set free the captives, must

have the Spirit of the Lord upon them.

In the oversight and guidance of a church the Spirit’s aid is needed. At

bottom the chief reason for secession from our denomination has been the

difficulty arising out of our church government. If, is said to “tend to the

unrest of the ministry.” Doubtless, it is very trying to those who crave for

the dignity of officialism, and must need be Sir Oracles, before whom not a

dog must bark. Those who are no more capable of ruling than mere babes

are the very persons who have the greatest thirst for authority, and, finding

little of it awarded to them in these parts, they seek other regions. If you

cannot rule yourself, if you are not manly and independent, if you are not

superior in moral weight, if you have not more gift and more grace than

your ordinary hearers, you may put on a gown and claim to be the ruling

person in the church; but it will not be in a church of the Baptist or New

Testament order. For my part I should loathe to be the pastor of a people


who have nothing to say, or who, if they do say anything, might as well be

quiet, for the pastor is Lord Paramount, and they are mere laymen and

nobodies. I would sooner be the leader of six free men, whose enthusiastic

love is my only power over them, than play the dictator to a score of

enslaved nations. What position is nobler than that of a spiritual father who

claims no authority and yet is universally esteemed, whose word is given

only as tender advice, but is allowed to operate with the force of law?

Consulting the wishes of others he finds that they first desire to know what

he would recommend, and deferring always to the desires of others, he

finds that they are glad to defer to him. Lovingly firm and graciously

gentle, he is the chief of all because he is the servant of all. Does not this

need wisdom from above? What can require it more? David when

established on the throne said, “It is he that subdueth my’ people under

me,” and so may every happy pastor say when he sees so many brethren of

differing temperaments all happily willing to be under discipline, and to

accept his leadership in the work of the Lord. If the Lord were not among

us how soon there would be confusion. Ministers, deacons, and elders may

all be wise, but if the sacred Dove departs, and file spirit of strife enters, it

is all over with us. Brethren, our system will not work without the Spirit of

God, and I am glad it will not, for its stoppages and breakages call our

attention to the fact of his absence. Our system was never intended to

promote the glory of priests and pastors, but it is calculated to educate

manly ]Christians, who will not take their faith at secondhand. ‘What am I,

and what are you, that .we should be lords over God’s heritage? Dare any

of us say with the French king, “L’etat, c’est moi” — ” the state is myself,”

— I am the most important person in the church? If so, the Holy Spirit is

not likely to use such unsuitable instruments; but if we know our places

and desire to keep them with all humility, he will help us, and tile churches

will flourish beneath our care.

I have given you a lengthened catalogue of matters wherein the Holy Spirit

is absolutely necessary to us, and yet the list is very far from complete. I

have intentionally left it imperfect, because if I attempted its completion all

our time would have expired before we were able to answer the question,

How MAY WE LOSE THIS NEEDFUL ASSISTANCE? Let none of us ever try

the experiment, but it is certain that ministers may lose the aid of the Holy

Ghost. Each man here may lose it. You shall not perish as believers, for

everlasting life is in you; but you may perish as ministers, and be no more

heard of as witnesses for the Lord. Should this happen it will not be


without a cause. The Spirit claims a sovereignty like that of the wind which

bloweth where it listeth; but let ins never dream that sovereignty and

capriciousness are the same thing. The blessed Spirit acts as he wills, but

he always acts justly, wisely, and with motive and reason. At times he gives

or withholds his blessing, for reasons connected with ourselves. Mark the

course of a river like the Thames; how it winds and twists according to its

own sweet will: yet there is a reason for every bend and curve: the

geologist studying the soil and marking the conformation of the rock, sees

a reason why the river’s bed diverges to the right or to the left: and so,

though the Spirit of God blesses one preacher more than another, and the

reason cannot be such that any man could congratulate himself upon his

own goodness, yet there are certain things about Christian ministers which

God blesses, and certain other things which hinder success. The Spirit of

God falls like the dew, in mystery and power, but it is in the spiritual world

as in the natural: certain substances are wet with the celestial moisture

while others are always dry. Is there not a causer The wind blows where it

lists; but if we desire to feel a stiff breeze we must go out to sea, or climb

the hills. The Spirit o£ God has his favored places for displaying his might.

He is typified by a dove, and the dove has its chosen haunts: to the rivers

of waters, to the peaceful and quiet places, the dove resorts; we meet it not

upon the battle-field, neither does it alight on carrion. There are things

congruous to the Spirit, and things contrary to his mind. The Spirit of God

is compared to light, and light can shine Where it wills, but some bodies

are opaque, while others are transparent; and so there are men through

whom God the Holy Ghost can shine, and there are others through whom

his brightness never appears. Thus, then, it can be shown that the Holy

Ghost, though he be the “free Spirit” of God, is by no means capricious in

his operations.

But, dear brethren, the Spirit of God may be grieved and vexed, and event

resisted: to deny this is to oppose the constant testimony of Scripture.

Worst of all, ‘we may do despite to him, and so in-suit him that he will

speak no more by us, but leave us as he left king Saul of old. Alas, that

there should be men in the Christian ministry to whom this has happened;

but I am afraid there are.

Brethren. what are those evils which will grieve the Spirit? I answer,

anything that would have disqualified you as an ordinary Christian for

communion with God also disqualifies you for feeling the extraordinary


power of the Holy Spirit as a minister: but, apart from that, there are

special hindrances.

Among the first we must mention a want of sensitiveness, or that unfeeling

condition which arises from disobeying the Spirit’s influences. We should

be delicately sensitive to his faintest movement, and then we may expect

his abiding presence, but if we are as the horse anti as the mule, which have

no understanding, we shall feel the whip, but we shall not enjoy the tender

influences of the Comforter.

Another grieving fault is a want of truthfulness. When a great musician

takes a guitar, or touches a harp, and finds that the notes are false, he stays

his hand. Some men’s souls are not honest; they are sophistical and doubleminded.

Christ’s Spirit will not be an accomplice with men in the wretched

business of shuffling and deceiving. Does it really come to this — that you

preach certain doctrines, not because you believe them, but because your

congregation expects you to do so? Are you hiding your time till you can,

without risk! renounce your present creed and tell out what your dastardly

mind really holds to be true? Then are you fallen indeed, and are baser than

the meanest slaves. God deliver us from treacherous men, and if they enter

our ranks, may they speedily be drummed out to the tune of the Rogue’s

March. If we feel an abhorrence of them, how much more must the Spirit

.of truth detest them!

You can greatly grieve the Holy Spirit by a general scantiness of grace.

The phrase is awkward, but it describes certain persons better than any’

other which occurs to me. The Scanty-grace family usually have one of the

brothers in the ministry. I know the man. He is not dishonest, nor immoral,

he is not bad tempered, nor self-indulgent, but there is a something

wanting: it would not be easy to prove its absence by any overt offense,

but it is wanting in the whole man, and its absence spoils everything. He

wants the one thing needful. He is not. spiritual, he has no savor of Christ,

his heart never burns within him, his soul is not alive, he wants grace, We

cannot expect the Spirit of God to bless a ministry which never ought to

have been exercised, and certainly a graceless ministry is of that character.

Another evil which drives away the divine Spirit is pride. The way to be

very great is to be very little. To be very noteworthy in you,: own esteem is

to be unnoticed of God. If you must needs dwell upon the high places of

the earth, you shall find the mountain summits cold and barren: the Lord

dwells with the lowly, but he knows the proud afar off.


The Holy Ghost is also vexed by laziness. I cannot imagine the Spirit

waiting at the door of a sluggard, and supplying the deficiencies created by

indolence. Sloth in the cause of the Redeemer is; a vice for which no

excuse can be invented. We ourselves feel our flesh creep when we see the

dilatory movements of sluggards, and we may be sure that the active Spirit

is equally vexed with those who trifle in the work of the Lord.

Neglect of private prayer and many other evils will produce the same

unhappy result, but there is no need to enlarge, for your own consciences

will tell you, brethren, what it is that grieves the Holy One of Israel.

And now, let me entreat you, listen to this word : — Do you know what

may happen if the Spirit of God be greatly grieved and depart from us?

There are two suppositions. The first is that we never were God’s true

servants at all, but were only temporarily used by him, as Balaam was, and

even the ass on which he rode. Suppose, brethren, that you and I go on

comfortably preaching a while, and are neither suspected by ourselves nor

others to be destitute of the Spirit of God: our ministry’ may all come to an

end on a sudden, and we may come to an end with it; we may be smitten

down in our prime, as were Nadab and Abidu, no more to be seen

ministering before the Lord, or removed in riper years, like Hophni and

Phineas, no longer to serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. We have

no inspired annalist to record for us the sudden cutting off of promising

men, but if we had, it. may be we should react with terror — of zeal

sustained by strong drink, of public Phariseeism associated with secret

defilement, of avowed orthodoxy concealing absolute infidelity, or of some

other form of strange fire presented upon the altar till the Lord would

endure it no more, and cut off the offenders with a sudden stroke. Shall

this terrible doom happen to any one of us?

Alas, I have seen some deserted by the Holy Spirit, as Saul was. It is

written that the Spirit of God came upon Saul, but he was faithless to the

divine influence, and it departed, and an evil spirit occupied its place. See

how the deserted preacher moodily plays the cynic, criticizes all others, and

hurls the javelin of detraction at a better man than himself. Saul was once

among the prophets, but he was more at home among the persecutors. The

disappointed preacher worries the true evangelist, resorts to the witchcraft

of philosophy, and seeks help from dead heresies; but his power is gone,

and the Philistines will soon find him among the slain.. “Tell it not in Gath,


publish it not in the streets of Askielon! ye daughters of Israel weep over

Saul! How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle I”

Some, too, deserted by the, Spirit of God, have become like the sons of one

Sceva, a Jew. These pretenders tried to cast out devils in the name of

Jesus, whom Paul preached, but the devils leaped upon them and overcame

them; thus while certain preachers have declaimed against sin, the very

vices which they denounced have overthrown them. The sons of Sceva

have been among us in England: the devils of drunkenness have prevailed

over the very man who denounced the bewitching cup, and the demon of

unchastity has leaped upon the preacher who applauded purity. If the Holy

Ghost be absent, ours is of all positions the most perilous; therefore let us


Alas, some ministers become like Balaam. He was a prophet, was he not?

Did he not speak in the name of the Lord? Is he not called “the man whose

eyes are opened, which saw the vision of the Almighty? Yet Balaam

fought against Israel, and cunningly devised a scheme by which the chosen

people might be overthrown. Ministers of the gospel have become Papists,

infidels, and freethinkers, and plotted the destruction of what they once

professed to prize. We may be apostles, and yet, like Judas, turn out to be

sons of perdition. Woe unto us if this be the case!

Brethren, I will assume that we really are the children of God, and what

then? Why, even then, if the Spirit of God depart from us, we may be taken

away oh a sudden as the deceived prophet was who failed to obey the

command of the Lord in the days of Jeroboam. life was no doubt a man of

God, and the death of his body was no evidence of the loss of his soul, but

he broke away from what he knew to be the command of God given

specially to himself, and his ministry ended there and then, for a lion met

him by the way and slew him. May the Holy Spirit preserve us from

deceivers, and keep us true to the voice of God.

Worse still, we may reproduce the life of Samson, upon whom the Spirit of

God came in the camps of Dan; but in Delilah’s lap he lost his strength, and

in the dungeon he lost his eyes. He bravely finished his life-work, blind as

he was, but who among us wishes to tempt such a fate?

Or — and this last has saddened me beyond all expression, because it is

much more likely than any of the rest — we may be left by the Spirit of

God, in a painful degree, to mar the close of our life-work as Moses did.


Not to lose our souls, nay, not even to lose our crowns in heaven, or even

our reputations on earth; but, still, to be under a cloud in our last days

through once speaking unadvised][y with our lips. I have lately studied the

later days of the great prophet of Horeb, and I have not yet recovered from

the deep gloom of spirit which it cast over me. What was the sin of

Moses!? You need not enquire. It was not gross like the transgression of

David, nor startling like the failure of Peter, nor weak and foolish like the

grave fault of his brother Aaron; indeed, it seems an infinitesimal offense as

weighed in the balances of ordinary judgment. But then, you see, it was the

sin of Moses, of a mart favored of God beyond all others, of a leader of the

people, of a representative of the divine King. The Lord could have

overlooked it in anyone ,else, but not in Moses: Moses must be chastened

by being forbidden to lead the people into the promised land. Truly, he had

a ,glorious view from the top of Pisgah, and everything else which could

mitigate the rigor of the sentence, but; it was a great disappointment never

to enter the land of Israel’s inheritance, and that for once speaking

unadvisedly. I would not shun my Masters service, but I tremble in his

presence. Who can be faultless when even Moses erred? It is a dreadful

thing to be beloved of God. “Who among us shall dwell with devouring

fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh

righteously and speaketh uprightly “-he alone can face that sin-consuming

flame of love. Brethren, I beseech you, crave Moses’s place, but tremble as

you take it. Fear and tremble for all the good that God shall make to pass

before you. When you are fullest of the fruits of the Spirit bow lowest before

the throne, and serve the Lord with fear. “The Lord our God is a jealous

God.” Remember that God has come unto us, not to exalt us, but to exalt

himself, and we must see to it that his glory is the one sole object of all that

we do. “He must increase,, and I must decrease.” Oh, may God bring us

to this, and make us walk very carefully and humbly before him. God will

search us and try us, for judgment begins at his own house, and in that house it

begins with his ministers. Will any of us be found wanting? Shall the pit of hell

draw a portion of its wretched inhabitants from among our band of pastors?

Terrible will be the, doom of a fallen preacher: his condemnation will astonish

common transgressors. “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at

thy coming.” All they shall speak and say unto thee, “Art thou also become

weak as we? Art thou become like unto us?” O for the Spirit of God to make

and keep us alive unto God, faithful to our office, and useful to our generation,

and clear of the blood of men’s souls. Amen.




DEAR FELLOW SOLDIERS! We are few, and we have a desperate fight

before us, therefore it is needful that every man should be made the most

of, and nerved to his highest point of strength. It is desirable thug the

Lord’s ministers should be the picked men of the character, of the entire

universe, for such the age demands; therefore, in reference to yourselves

and your personal qualifications, I give you the motto, “Go forward” Go

forward in personal attainments, forward in gifts and in grace, forward in

fitness for the work, and forward in conformity to the image of Jesus. The

points I shall speak upon begin at the base, and ascend.

1. First, dear brethren, I think it necessary to say to myself and to you that

we must go forward in our mental acquirements. It will never do! for us

continually to present ourselves to God at our worst. We are not worth his

having at our best; but at any rate let not the offering be maimed and

blemished by our idleness. “Thou shalt lore the Lord thy God with all thy

heart” is, perhaps, more easy’ to comply with, than to love him with all our

mind; yet we must give him our mind as well as our affections, and that

mind should be well furnished, that we may not offer him an empty casket.

Our ministry demands mind. I shall not insist upon “the enlightenment of

the age,” still it is quite certain that there is a great educational advance

among all classes, and that there will yet be much more of it. The time is

passed when ungrammatical speech will suffice for a preacher. Even in a

country village, where, according to tradition, “nobody knows nothings”

the schoolmaster is now abroad, and want of education will hinder

usefulness more than it once did; for, when the speaker wishes his audience

to remember the gospel, they on the other and will remember his

ungrammatical expressions, and will repeat them as themes for jest, when

we could have wished they }lad rehearsed the divine doctrines to one

another in solemn earnest. Dear brethren, we must cultivate ourselves to

the highest possible point, and we should do this, firsts by gathering in

knowledge that we may fill the barn, then by acquiring discrimination that

we may winnow the heap, and lastly by a firm retentiveness of mind, by


which we may lay up the winnowed grain in the storehouse. These three

points may not be equally important, but they are all necessary to a

complete man.

We must, I say, make great efforts to acquire information, especially of a

Biblical kind. We must not confine ourselves to one topic ,of study, or we

shall not exercise our whole mental manhood. God made the world for

man, and he made man with a mind intended to occupy and use all the

world; he is the tenant, and nature is for a while his house; why should he

shut himself out of any of its rooms? Why refuse to taste any of the

cleansed meats the great Father has put upon the table? Still, our main

business is to study the Scriptures. The smith’s main business is to shoe

horses; let him see that he knows how to do it, for should he be able to belt

an angel with a girdle of gold he will fail as a smith if he cannot make and

fix a horse-shoe. It is a small matter that you Should be able to write the

most brilliant poetry, as possibly you could, Unless you can preach a good

and telling sermon, which will have the effect of comforting saints and

convincing sinners. Study the Bible, dear brethren, through and through,

with all helps that you can possibly obtain: remember that the appliances

now within the reach of ordinary Christians are much more extensive than

they were in our fathers’ days, and therefore you must be greater Biblical

scholars if you would keep in front of your hearers. Intermeddle with all

knowledge, but above all things meditate day and night in the law of the


Be well instructed in theology, and do not regard the sneers of those who

rail at it because they are ignorant of it. Many preachers are not

theologians, and hence the mistakes which they make. It; cannot do any

hurt to the most lively evangelist to be also a sound theologian, and it may

often be the means of saving him from gross blunders, Now-a-days we hear

men tear a single sentence of Scripture from its connection, and cry

“Eureka! Eureka!” as if they had found a new truth; and yet they have not.

discovered a diamond, but a piece of broken glass. Had they been able to

compare spiritual things with spiritual, had they understood the analogy of

the faith, and had they been acquainted with the holy learning of the great

Bible students of ages past, they would not have been quite so fast in

vaunting their marvelous knowledge. Let us be thoroughly well acquainted

with the great doctrines of the Word of God, and let us be mighty in

expounding Scripture. I am sure that no preaching will last so long, or

build up a church so well, as the expository. To renounce altogether the


hortatory discourse for the expository would be running to a preposterous

extreme; but I cannot too earnestly assure you that if your ministries are to

be lastingly useful you must be expositors. For [this you must understand

the Word yourselves, and be able so to comment upon it that the people

may be built up by the Word. Be masters of your Bibles, brethren:

whatever other works you have not searched, be at home with the writings

of the prophets and apostles. “Let the word of God dwell in you richly”

Having given precedence to the inspired writings, neglect no field of

knowledge. The presence of Jesus on the earth has sane-titled the realms

Of nature, and what he has cleansed call not you common. All that your

Father has made is yours, and you should learn from it. You may read a

naturalist’s journal, or a traveler’s voyage, and find profit in it. Yes, and

even an old herbal, or a manual of alchemy may, like Samson’s dead lion,

yield you honey. There are pearls in oyster shells, and fruits on thorny

boughs. The paths of true science, especially natural history and botany,

drop fatness. Geology, so far as it is fact, and not fiction, is full of

treasures. History — wonderful are the visions which it makes to pass

before you — -is eminently instructive; indeed, every portion of God’s

dominion in nature teems with precious teachings. Follow the trails of

knowledge, according as you have the time, the opportunity, and the

peculiar faculty; and do not hesitate to do so because of any apprehension

that you will educate yourselves up to too high a point. When grace

abounds, learning will not puff you up, or injure your simplicity in the

gospel. Serve God with such education as you have, and thank him for

blowing through you if you are a ram’s horn, but if there be a possibility of

your becoming a silver trumpet, choose it rather.

I have said that we must also learn to discriminate, and at this particular

time that point needs insisting on. Many run after novelties, charmed with

every invention: learn to judge between truth and its counterfeits, and you

will not be led astray. Others adhere like limpets to old teachings, and yet

these may only be ancient errors: prove all things, and hold fast that which

is good. The use of the sieve, and the winnowing fan, is much to be

commended. Dear brethren, a man who has asked of the Lord to give him

clear eyes by which he shall see the truth and discern its bearings, and who,

by reason of the constant exercise of his faculties, has obtained an accurate

judgment, is one fit to be a leader of the Lord’s host; but all are not such. It

is painful to observe how many embrace anything if it be but earnestly

brought before them. They swallow the medicine of every spiritual quack


who has enough of brazen assurance to appear to be sincere. Be ye not

such children in understanding, but test carefully before you accept. Ask

the Holy Spirit to give you the faculty of’ discerning, so shall you conduct

your flocks far from poisonous meadows, and lead them into safe


When in due time you have gained the power of acquiring knowledge, and

the faculty of discrimination, seek next for ability to retain and hold firmly

what you have learned. In these times certain men glory in being

weathercocks; they hold fast nothing, they have, in fact, nothing worth the

holding. They believed yesterday, but not that which they believe to-day,

nor that which they will believe to-morrow; and he would be a greater

prophet than Isaiah who should be able to tell what they will believe when

next the moon doth fill her horns, for they are constantly altering, and seem

to be born under that said moon, and to partake of her changing moods.

These men may be as; honest as they claim to be, but of what use are they?

Like good trees oftentimes transplanted, they may be of a noble nature, but

they bring forth nothing; their strength goes out in rooting and re-rooting,

they have no sap to spare for fruit. Be sure you have the truth, and then be

sure you hold it. Be ready for fresh truth, if it be truth, but be very chary

how you subscribe to the belief that a better light has been found than that

of the sun. Those who hawk new truth about the street, as the boys do a

second edition of the evening paper, are usually no better than they should

be. The fair maid of truth does not paint her cheeks and tire her head like

Jezebel, following every new philosophic fashion; she is content with her

own native beauty, and her aspect is in the main the same yesterday, today,

and for ever. When men change often they generally need to be

changed in the most emphatic sense. Our “modern thought” gentry are

doing incalculable mischief to the souls of men, and resemble Nero fiddling

upon the top of a tower with Rome burning at his feet. Souls are being

damned, and yet: these men are spinning theories. Hell gapes wide, and

with her open mouth swallows up myriads, and those who should. spread

the tidings of salvation are “pursuing fresh lines of thought.” Highly

cultured soul-murderers will find their boasted “culture” to be no excuse

in the day of judgment. For God’s sake, let us know how men are to be

saved, and get to the work: to be for ever deliberating as to the proper

mode of making bread while a nation dies of famine is detestable trifling. It

is time we knew what to teach, or else renounced our office. “For ever

learning and. never coming to the truth” is the motto of the worst rather


than the best of men. I saw in Rome a statue of a boy extracting a thorn

from his foot; I went my way, and returned in a year’s time, and ;here sat

the selfsame boy, extracting the intruder still, Is this to be our model? “I

shape my creed every week,” was the confession of one of these divines to

me. Whereunto shall I liken such unsettled ones? Are they not like those

birds which frequent the Golden Horn, and are to be seen from

Constantinople, of which it is said that they are always on the wing, and

never rest? No one ever saw them alight on the water or on the land, they

are for ever poised in mid-air. The natives call. them “lost souls,” seeking

rest and finding none. Assuredly, men who have no personal rest in the

truth, if they are not unsaved themselves, are, at least;, very unlikely to

save others, He who has no assured truth to tell must not wonder if his

hearers set small store by him. We must know the truth, understand it, and

hold it with firm grip, or we cannot hope to lead others to believe it.

Brethren, I charge you, seek to know and to discriminate; and then, having

discriminated, labor to be rooted and grounded in the truth. Keep in full

operation the processes of filling the barn, winnowing the grain, and

storing it in granaries, so shall you mentally “Go forward.”

2. We need to go forward in oratorical qualifications. I am beginning at

the bottom, but even this is important, for it is a pity that even the feet of

this image should be of clay. Nothing is trifling which Can be of any service

to our grand design. Only for want of a hall the horse lost his shoe, and so

became unfit for the battle; that shoe was only a trifling rim of iron which

smote the ground, and yet the neck clothed with thunder was of no avail

when the shoe was gone. A man may be irretrievably ruined for ,.spiritual

usefulness, not because he fails either in character or spirit, but because he

breaks down mentally or oratorically, and, therefore:, I have begun with

these points, and again remark that we must; improve in utterance. It is not

every one of us who can speak as some can do, and even these: men

cannot speak up to their own ideal. If there be any brothel’ here who thinks

he can preach as well as he should:, I would advise him to leave off

altogether. If he did so he would be acting as wisely as the great painter’

who broke his palette, and, turning to his wife, said, “My painting days are

over, for I have satisfied myself, and therefore I am sure my power is

gone.” Whatever other perfection may be reachable, I am certain that he

who thinks he has gained perfection in oratory mistakes volubility for

eloquence, and verbiage for argument. Whatever you may know, you

cannot be truly efficient ministers if you are not ‘“ apt to teach.” You know


ministers who have mistaken their calling, and evidently have no gifts for it:

make sure that none think the same of you. There are brethren in the

ministry, whose speech is intolerable; either they rouse you to wrath, or

else they send you to sleep. No chloral can ever equal some discourses in

sleep-giving properties; no human being, unless gifted with infinite

patience, could long endure to listen to them, and nature does well to give

the victim deliverance through sleep. I heard one say the other day that a

certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in

my own judgment this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve

shows great discretion in his openings, and knows when to close. If some

men were sentenced to hear their own sermons it would be a righteous

judgment upon them, and they would soon cry out with Cain, “My

punishment is greater than I can bear.” Let us not fall. under the same


Brethren, we should cultivate a clear style. When a man does not make me

understand what he means, it is because he does not himself know What he

means. An average hearer, who is unable to follow the course of thought

of the preacher, ought not to worry himself, but to blame the preacher,

whose business it is to make the matter plain. If you look down into a well,

if it be empty it will appear to be very deep, but if there be water in it you

will see its brightness. I believe that many “deep” preachers are simply so

because they are like dry wells with nothing whatever in them, except

decaying leaves, a few stones, and. perhaps a dead cat or two. If there be

living water in your preaching it may be very deep, but the light of truth

will give clearness to it. It is not enough to be so plain that you can be

understood, you must speak so that you cannot be misunderstood.

We must cultivate a cogent as well as a clear style; our speech must be

forceful. Some imagine that this consists in speaking loudly, but I can

assure them they are in error. Nonsense does not improve by being

bellowed. God does not require us to shout as if we were speaking to ten

thousand, when we are only addressing three hundred. Let us be forcible

by reason of the excellence of our matter, anti the energy of spirit which

we throw into the delivery of it. In a word, let our speaking be natural and

living. I hope we have foresworn the tricks of professional orators, the

strain for effect, the studied climax, the pre-arranged pause, the theatric

strut, the mouthing of words, and I know not what besides, which you may

see in certain pompous divines who still survive upon the face of the earth.

May such become extinct animals ere long, and may a living, natural,


simple way of talking out the gospel be learned by as all; for I am

persuaded that such a style is one which God is likely to bless.

Among many other things we must cultivate persuasiveness. Some of our

brethren have great influence over men, and yet .others with greater gifts

are devoid of it; these last do not appear to get neat:’ to the people, they

cannot grip them and make them feel. There are preachers who in their

sermons seem to take their hearers one by one by the button-hole, and

drive the truth right into their souls, while others generalize so much, and

are so cold ‘withal, that one would think they were speaking of dwellers in

some remote planet, whose affairs did not much concern them. Learn the

art of pleading with men. You will do this well if you often see the Lord. If

I remember rightly, the old classic story tells us that, when a soldier was

about to kill Darius, his son, who ]had been dumb from his childhood,

suddenly cried out in surprise, “Know you not that he is the king?” His

silent tongue was unloosed by love to his father, and well may ours find

earnest speech when the Lord is seen by us crucified for sin. If there be any

speech in us, this will rouse it. The knowledge of the terrors of the Lord

should also bestir us to persuade men. We cannot do other than plead with

them to be reconciled to God. Brethren, mark those who woo sinners to

Jesus, find out their secret, and never rest till you obtain the same power. If

you find them very simple and! homely, yet if you see them really useful,

say to yourself, “That is my fashion ;” but if on the other hand you listen to

a preacher who is much admired, and on inquiry find that no souls are

savingly converted, say to yourself, “This is not the thing for me, for I am

not seeking to be great, but to be really useful.”

Let your oratory, therefore, constantly improve in clearness, cogency,

naturalness, and persuasiveness. Try, dear brethren, to get such a style of

speaking that you suit yourselves to your audiences. Much lies in that. The

preacher who should address an educated congregation in the language

which he would use in speaking to a company of costermongers would

prove himself a fool: and on the other hand, he who goes down amongst

miners and colliers with technical theological terms and drawing-room

phrases acts like an idiot. The confusion of tongues at Babel was more

thorough than we imagine. It did not merely give different languages to

great nations, but it made the speech of each class to vary from that; of

others. A- fellow of Billingsgate cannot understand a fellow of Brazenose.

Now as the costermonger cannot learn the. language of the college, let the

college learn the language of the costermonger. “We use the language of


the market,” said Whit-. field, and this was much to his honor; yet when he

stood in the drawing — room of the Countess of Huntingdon, and his

speech entranced the infidel noblemen whom she brought to hear him, he

adopted another style. His language was equally plain in each case, because

it was equally familiar to the audience: he did not. use the ipsissima verba,

or his language would have lost its plainness in the one case or the other,

and would either have been slang to the nobility, or Greek to the crowd. In

our modes of speech we should aim at being “all things to all men.” He is

the greatest master of oratory who is able to address any class of people in

a manner suitable to their condition, and likely to touch their hearts.

Brethren, let none excel us in power ,of’ speech: let none surpass us in the

mastery of our mother tongue, Beloved fellow-soldiers, our tongues are

the swords which God has given us to use for him, even as it is said of our

Lord, “Out of his mouth went a two-edged sword.” Let these swords be

sharp. Cultivate your powers of speech, and be amongst the foremost in

the land for utterance. I do not exhort you to this because you are

remarkably deficient; far from it, for everybody says to me, “We know the

college men by their plain, bold speech.’“ This leads me to believe that you

have the gift largely in you, and I beseech you to take pains to perfect it.

3. Brethren, we must be even more earnest to go forward in moral

qualities. Let the points I shall mention here come home to those who shall

require them, but I assure you I have no special persons among you in my

mind’s eye. We desire to rise to the highest style of ministry, and if so,

even if we obtain the mental and oratorical qualifications, we shall fail,

unless we also possess high moral qualities.

There are evils which we must shake off, as Paul shook the viper from his

hand, and there are virtues which we must gain at any cost.

Self-indulgence has slain its thousands; let us tremble lest we perish by the

hands of that Delilah.. Let us have every passion and habit under due

restraint: if we are not masters of ourselves we are not fit to be leaders in

the church.

We must put away all notion of self importance. God will not bless the man

who thinks himself great. To glory even in the work of God the Holy Spirit

in yourself is to tread dangerously near to self-adulation. “Let another

praise thee, and not thine own lips,” and be very glad when that other has

sense enough to hold his tongue.


We must also have our tempers well under restraint. A vigorous temper is;

not altogether an evil. Men who are as easy as an old shoe are, generally of

as little worth. I would, not say to you, “Dear brethren, have a temper,”

but I do say, If you have it, control it carefully.” I thank God when I see a

minister have temper enough to be indignant at wrong, and to be firm for

the right; still, temper is an edged tool, and often cuts the man who handles

it. “Gentle, easy to be entreated,” preferring to bear evil rather than inflict

it, this is to be our spirit. If any brother here naturally boils over too soon,

let him mind that when he does do so he scalds nobody but the, devil, and

then let him boil away.

We must conquer — some of us especially — our tendency to levity. A

great[distinction ,exists between holy cheerfulness, which is a virtue, and

that general levity, which is a vice. There is a levity which has not enough

heart to laugh, but trifles with everything; it is [flippant, hollow, unreal. Ahearty

laugh is no more levity than a hearty cry. I speak of that religious

veneering -which is pretentious, but thin, superficial, and insincere about

the weightiest matters; Godliness is no jest: nor is it a mere form. Beware

of being actors. Never give earnest men the impression -that you do not

mean what you say, and are mere professionals. To be burning at the lip

and freezing at the soul is a mark of reprobation. God deliver us from being

superfine and superficial: may we never be the butterflies of the garden of


At the same tinny., we should avoid everything like the ferocity of bigotry.

I know a class of religious people who, I have no doubt, were horn of a

woman, but they appear to have been suckled by a wolf. I have done them

no dishonor: were not Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, so

reared? Some warlike men of this order have had sufficient mental power

to found dynasties of thought; but human kindness and brotherly love

consort better with the kingdom of Christ. We are not to go about, the

world searching out heresies, like terrier dogs sniffing for rats; nor are we

to be so confident of our own infallibility as to erect ecclesiastical stakes at

which to roast all who differ from us, not, ‘tis true, with fagots of wood,

but with those coals of juniper:, which consist of strong prejudice and cruel


In addition to all this, there are mannerisms, and moods, and ways which I

cannot now describe, against which we must struggle, for little faults may

often be the source of failure, and to get rid of them may be the secret of


success. Count nothing little which even in a sraM1 degree hinders your

usefulness; cast out from the temple of your soul the seats of them that sell

doves as well as the traffickers in sheep and oxen.

And, dear brethren, we must acquire certain moral faculties and habits, as

well as put aside their opposites. He will never do much for God who has

not integrity of spirit. If we be guided by policy, if there be any mode of

action for us but that which is straightforward, we shall make shipwreck

before long. Resolve, dear brethren, that you can be poor, that you can be

despised. that you can lose life itself, but that you cannot do a crooked

thing. For you, let the only policy be honesty.

May you also possess the grand moral characteristic of courage. By this we

do[ not mean impertinence, impudence, or self-conceit; but real courage to

do and say calmly the right thing, and to go straight on at all hazards,

though there should be none to give you a good word. I am astonished at

the number of Christians who are afraid to speak the truth to their brethren.

I thank God I can say this, there is no member of my church, no officer of

the church, and no man in the world to whom I am afraid to say before his

face what I would say behind his back. Under God I owe my position in my

own church to the absence of all policy, and the habit; of saying what I

mean. The plan of making things pleasant; all round is a perilous as well as

a wicked one. If you say one thing to one man, and another to another,

they will one day compare notes and find you out, and then you will be;

despised. The man of two faces will sooner or later be the object of

contempt, and justly so. Above all things avoid cowardice, for it makes

men liars. If you have anything that you feel you ought to say about a man,

let the measure of what you say be this — -” How much dare I say to his

face?” You must not allow yourselves a word more in censure of any man

living. If that be your rule, your courage will save you from a thousand

difficulties, and win you lasting respect.

Having the integrity and the courage, dear brethren, may you be gifted with

an indomitable zeal. Zeal — what is it? How shall I describe it? Possess it,

and you will know what it is. Be consumed with love for Christ, and let the

flame burn continuously, not flaming up at public meetings and dying out in

the routine work of every day. We need indomitable perseverance, dogged

resolution, and a combination of sacred obstinacy, self-denial, holy

gentleness, and invincible courage.


Excel also in One power, which is both mental and moral, namely, the

power of concentrating all your forces upon the work to which you are

called. Collect your thoughts, rally all your faculties, mass your’ energies,

focus your capacities. Turn all the springs of your soul into One channel,

causing it to flow onward in an undivided stream. Some men lack this

quality. They scatter themselves and fail. Mass your battalions, and hurl

them upon the enemy. Do not try to be great at this and great at that — to

be “everything by turns, and nothing long ;” but suffer your entire nature to

be led in captivity by Jesus Christ, and lay everything at his dear feet who

bled and died for you.

4. Above all these, we need spiritual qualifications, graces which must be

wrought in us by the Lord himself. This is the main matter, I am sure.

Other things are precious, but this is priceless; we must be rich towards


We need to know ourselves. The preacher should be great in the science of

the heart, the philosophy of inward experience. There are two schools of

experience, and neither is content to learn from the other; let us be content,

however, to learn from both. The one school speaks of the child of God as

one who knows the deep depravity of his heart, who understands the

loathsomeness of his nature, and daily feels that in his flesh there dwelleth

no good thing. “That man has not the life of God in his soul,” say they,

“who does not know and feel this, and feel it by bitter and painful

experience from day to day.” It is in vain to talk to them about liberty, and

joy in the Holy Ghost; they will not have it. Let us learn from these onesided

brethren. They know much that should be known, and woe to that

minister who ignores their set of truths. Martin Luther used to say that

temptation is the best teacher for a minister. There is truth on that side of

the question.. Another school of believers dwell much upon the glorious

work of the Spirit of God, and rightly and blessedly so. They believe in the

Spirit of God as a cleansing power, sweeping the Augean stable of the

soul, and making it into a temple for God. But frequently they talk as if

they had ceased to sin, or to be annoyed by temptation; they glory as if the

battle were already fought, and the victory won. Let us learn from these

brethren. All the truth they can teach us let us know. Let us become

familiar with the hill-tops, and the glory that shines thereon, the Hermons

and the Tabors, where we may be transfigured with our Lord. Do not be

afraid of becoming too holy. Do not be afraid of being too full of the Holy

Spirit. I would have you wise on all sides, and able to deal with man both


in his conflicts and in his joys, as one familiar with both. Know where

Adam left you; know where the Spirit of God has placed you, Do not;

know either of these so exclusively as to forget the other. I believe that if

any men are likely to cry, “O wretched man that. I am! Who shall deliver

me from the body of this death?” it will always be the ministers, because

we need to be tempted in all points, so that we may be able to comfort

others. In a. railway carriage last week I saw a poor man with his leg

placed upon the seat. An official happening to see him in this posture,,

remarked, “Those cushions were not made for you to put your dirty boots

on.” As soon as the guard was gone the man put up his leg again, and said

to me, “He has never broken his leg in two places, I am sure, or he would

not be so sharp with me.” When I have heard brethren who have lived at

ease, enjoying good incomes, condemning others who are much tried,

because they could not rejoice in their fashion, I have felt that they knew

nothing of the broken bones which others have to carry throughout the

whole of their pilgrimage.

Brethren, know man in Christ, and out of Christ. Study him at his best, and

study him at his worst; know his anatomy, his secrets, and. his passions.

You cannot do this by books; you must have personal spiritual experience;

God alone can give you that.

Among spiritual acquirements, it is beyond all other things needful to know

him who is the sure remedy for all human diseases. Know Jesus. Sit at his

feet. Consider his nature, his work, his sufferings, his glory. Rejoice in his

presence: commune with him from day to day. To know Christ is to

understand the most excellent of sciences. You cannot fail to be wise if you

commune with wisdom; you cannot miss of strength if you have fellowship

with the mighty Son of God. I saw the other day in an Italian grotto a little

fern, which grew where its leaves continually glistened and danced in the

spray of a fountain. It was always green, and neither summer’s drought nor

winter’s cold affected it. So let us for ever abide under the sweet influence

of Jesus’ love. Dwell in God, brethren; do not occasionally visit him, but

abide in him. They say in Italy that where the sun does not enter the

physician must. Where Jesus does not shine the soul is sick. Bask in his

beams and you shall be vigorous in the service of the Lord. Last Sunday

night I had a text which mastered me : — “No man knoweth the Son but

the Father.” I told the people that poor sinners who had gone to Jesus and

trusted him, thought they knew him, but that they knew only a little of him.

Saints of sixty years’ experience, who have walked with him every day,


think they know him; but they are only beginners yet. The perfect spirits

before the throne, who have been for five thousand years perpetually

adoring him, perhaps think they know him, but they do not to the full. “No

man knoweth the Son but the Father.” He is so glorious, that only the

infinite God has full knowledge of him, therefore there will be no limit to

our study, or narrowness in our line of thought, if we make our Lord the

great object of all our meditations.

Brethren:, as the outcome of this, if we are to be strong men, we must be

conformed to our Lord. Oh, to be like him! Blessed be that cross on which

we shall suffer, if we suffer for being made like unto the Lord Jesus. If we

obtain conformity to Christ, we shall have a wondrous unction upon ore’

ministry, and without that, what is a ministry worth?

In a word, we must labor for holiness of character. What is holiness? Is it

hot wholeness of character? a balanced condition in which there is neither

lack nor redundance? It is not morality, that is a cold lifeless statue.;

holiness is life. You must have holiness; and, dear brethren, if you should

fail in mental qualifications (as I hope you will not), and if you should have

a slender measure of the oratorical faculty (as I trust you will not), yet,

depend upon it, a holy life is, in itself, a wonderful power, and ‘will make

up for many deficiencies; it is, in fact, the best sermon the best man can

deliver. Let us resolve that all the purity which can be had we will have,

that all the sanctity which can be reached we will obtain, and that all the

likeness to Christ that is possible in this world of sin shall certainly be in us

through the work of the Spirit of God. The Lord lift us all as a college right

up to a higher platform, and he shall have the glory!

5. Still I have not done, dear brethren. I have to say to you,. go forward in

actual work, for, after all, we shall be known by what we have done. We

ought to be mighty in deed as well as word. There are good brethren in the

world who are impractical. The grand doctrine of the second advent makes

them stand with open mouths, peering into the skies, so that I am ready to

say, “Ye men of Plymouth, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?” The

fact that Jesus Christ is to come is not a reason for star-gazing, but for

working in the power of the Holy Ghost. Be not so taken up with

speculations as to prefer a Bible reading over a dark passage in the

Revelation to teaching in a ragged-school or discoursing to the poor

concerning. Jesus. We must have done with day-dreams, and get to work. I

believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them. I do not mind how


big your egg is; it may be an ostrich’s egg if you like, but if there is nothing

in it, pray clear away the shells. If something comes of it, God bless your

speculations, and even if you should go a little further than I think it wise

to venture, still, if you are more useful, God be praised for it. We want

facts — deeds done, souls saved. It is all very well to write essays, but

what souls have you saved from going down to hell? Your excellent

management of your school interests me, but how many children have been

brought into the church by it? We are glad to hear of those special

meetings, but how many have really been born to God in]them? Are saints

edified? Are sinners converted?

To swing to and fro on a five-barred gate is not progress, yet some seem to

think so. I see them in perpetual Elysium, humming over to themselves and

their friends, “We are very comfortable.” God save us from living in

comfort while sinners are sinking into hell. In traveling along the mountain

roads in Switzerland you will continually see marks of the boring-rod; and

in every minister’s life there should be traces of stern labor. Brethren, do

something; do something; do something. While committees waste their

time over resolutions, do something. While Societies and Unions are

making constitutions, let us win souls. Too often we discuss, and discuss,

and discuss, and Satan laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning

and sought something to plan. I pray you:, be men of action all of you. Get

to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suwarrow’s idea of war is mine:

“Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form column: Charge bayonets!

Plunge into the center of the enemy.” Our one aim is to sate sinners, and

this we are not to talk about, but to do in the power! of God.

6. Lastly, and here I am going to deliver a message which weighs upon me,

— Go forward in the matter of the choice of your sphere of action. I plead

this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely:, the great

outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably

well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who

will do this? Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences

about the heathen? Millions have never heard the name of Jesus. Hundreds

of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know

nothing of our{ King. Shall we let them perish? Can we go to ore’ beds

and sleep while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned?

Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim upon us? We ought to put

it on this footing — not “Can I prove that I ought to go?” but “Cart I

prove that I ought not to go?” When a man can prove honestly that he


ought not to go then he is dear, but not else. What answer do you give, my

brethren? I put i% to you man by man. I am not raising a question among

you which I have not honestly put to myself. I have felt; that if some of our

leading ministers would go forth it would have a grand effect in stimulating

the churches, and I have honestly asked myself whether I ought to go.

After balancing the whole thing I feel bound to keep my place, and I think

the judgment, of most Christians would be the same; but I hope I would

cheerfully go if it were my duty to do so. Brethren, put yourselves through

the same process. We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads

of his elect among them, we must go and search for them till we find them.

Many difficulties are now removed:, all lands are open to us, and distance

is annihilated. True we have not the Pentecostal gift of tongues, but

languages are now readily acquired, while the art of printing is a full

equivalent for the lost gift. The dangers incident to missions ought not to

keep any true man back, even if they were very great, .but they are now

reduced to a minimum. There are hundreds of places where the cross of

Christ is unknown, to which we can go without risk. Who will go? The

men who ought to go are young brethren of good abilities who have not

yet taken upon themselves family cares.

Each student entering the college should consider this matter, and

surrender himself to the work unless there are conclusive reasons for his

not doing so. It is a fact that even for the colonies it is ‘very difficult to find

men,, for I have had openings in Australia which I have been obliged to

decline. It ought not to be so. Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us

yet, and some among us are willing to be exiled for Jesus. The Mission

languishes for want of men. If the men were forthcoming the liberality of

the church would supply their needs, and, in fact, the liberality of rite

church has made the supply, and yet there are not the men to go. I shall

never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until

we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of conflict.

I believe that if God moves you to go, you will be among the best of

missionaries, because you will make the preaching of the gospel the great

feature of your work, and that is God’s sure way of power. I wish that our

churches would imitate that of Pastor Harms, in Germany, where every

member was consecrated to God indeed and of a truth. The farmers gave

the produce of their lands, the working-men their labor; one gave a large

house to be used as a missionary college, and Pastor Harms obtained

money for a ship which he fitted out;, to make voyages to Africa, and then


he sent missionaries, and little companies of his people with them, to form

Christian communities among the Bushmen. When will our churches be

equally self-denying and energetic? Look at the Moravians! how every man

and woman becomes a missionary, and how much they do is, consequence.

Let us catch their spirit. Is it a right spirit? Then it is right for us to have it.

It is not enough for us to say, “Those Moraviaus are very wonderful

people I” We ought to be wonderful people too. Christ did not purchase

the Moravians any more than he purchased us; they are under no more

obligation to make sacrifices than we are. Why then this backwardness?

When we read of heroic men who gave up all for Jesus, we are not merely

to admire, but to imitate them. Who will imitate them now? Come to the

point. Are there not some among you willing to consecrate yourselves to

the Lord? “Forward ‘“ is the watchword to-day! Are there no bold spirits

to lead the van? Pray all of you that during this Pentecost the Spirit may

say, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work.”

Forward! In God’s name, FORWARD!




SOME things are true and some things are false ‘ — I regard that as an

axiom; but there are many persons who evidently do not believe it. The

current principle of the present age seems to be. “Some things are either

true or false, according to the point of view from which you look at them.

Black is white, and white is black according to circumstances; and it does

not particularly matter which you call it. Truth of course is true, but it

would be rude to say that the opposite is a lie; we must not be bigoted, but

remember the motto, ‘So many men, so many minds,’“ Our forefathers

were particular about maintaining landmarks; they had strong notions

about fixed points of revealed doctrine, and were very tenacious of what

they believed to be scriptural; their fields were protected by hedges and

ditches, but their sons have grubbed up the hedges, filled up the ditches,

laid all level, and played at leap-frog with the boundary stones. The school

of modern thought laughs at the ridiculous positiveness of Reformers and

Puritans; it is advancing in glorious liberality, and before long will publish a

grand alliance between heaven and hell, or, rather, an amalgamation of the

two establishments upon terms of mutual concession, allowing falsehood

and truth to lie side by side, like the lion ‘with the lamb. Still, for all that,

my firm old-fashioned belief is that some doctrines are true, and that

statements which are diametrically opposite to them are not true, — that

when “No” is the fact, “Yes” is out of court, and that when “Yes” can be

justified, “No” must be abandoned. I believe that the gentleman who has

for so long a time perplexed our courts is either Sir Roger Tichborne or

somebody else; I am not yet able to conceive of his being the true heir and

an impostor at the same time. Yet in religious matters the fashionable

standpoint is somewhere in that latitude.

We have a Axed faith to preach, my brethren, and we are sent forth with a

definite message from God. We are not left to fabricate the message as we

go along. We are not sent forth by our Master with a general commission

arranged on this fashion — ” As you shall think in your heart and invent in

your head, so preach. Keep abreast of the times. Whatever the people want


to hear, tell them that, and they shall be saved.” Verily, we read not so.

There is something definite in the Bible. It is not quite a lump of wax to be

shaped at our will, or a roll of cloth to be cut according to the prevailing

fashion. Your great thinkers evidently look upon the Scriptures as a box of

letters for them to play with, and make what they like of, or a wizard’s,

bottle, out of which they may pour anything they choose, from atheism up

to spiritualism. I am too old-fashioned to fall down and worship this

theory. There is something told me in the Bible — told me for certain —

not put before me With a “but” and a “perhaps,” and an “if,” and a “may

be,” and fifty thousand suspicions behind it, so that really the long and the

short of it is, that it may not be so at all; but revealed to me as infallible

fact, which must be believed, the opposite of which is deadly error, and

comes from the father of lies.

Believing, therefore, that there is such a thing as truth, and such a thing as

falsehood, that there are truths in the Bible, and that the gospel consists in

something definite which is to be believed by men, it becomes us to be

decided as to what we teach, and to teach it in a decided manner. We have

to deal with men who wilt be either lost or saved, and they certainly will

not be saved by’ erroneous doctrine. We have to deal with God, whose

servants we are1 and he will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods;

neither will he give us a reward, and say, “Well done, good and faithful

servant, thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever

lived before thee.” We stand in a very solemn position, and ours should be

the spirit of old Micaiah, who said, “As the Lord my God liveth, before

whom I stand, whatsoever the Lord saith unto me that will I speak.”

Neither less nor more than God’s word are we called to state, but that

word we are bound to declare in a spirit which convinces the sons of men

that, whatever they may think of it, we believe God, and are not to be

shaken in our confidence in him.

Brethren, in what ought we to be positive? Well, there are gentlemen alive

Who imagine that there are no fixed principles to go upon. “; Perhaps a

few doctrines,” said one to me, “perhaps a few doctrines may be

considered as established. It is, perhaps, ascertained that there is a God;

but one ought not to dogmatise upon his personality: a great deal may be

said for pantheism.” Such men creep into the ministry, but they are

generally cunning enough to conceal the breadth of their minds beneath

Christian phraseology, thus acting in consistency with their principles, for

their fundamental rule is that truth is of no consequence.


As for us — -as for me, at any rate — -I am certain that there is a God,

and I mean to preach it as a man does who is absolutely sure. tie is the

Maker of heaven and earth, the Master of providence, and the Lord of

grace: let his name be blessed for ever and eve! We will have no questions

and debates as to him.

We are equally certain that the book which is called “the Bible “is his

word, and is inspired: not inspired in the sense in which Shakespeare, and

Milton, and Dryden may be inspired, but in an infinitely higher sense; so

that, provided we have the exact text, we regard the words themselves as

infallible. We believe that everything Stated in the book that comes to us

from God is to be accepted by us as his sure testimony, and nothing less

than that. God forbid we should be ensnared by those various

interpretations of the modus of inspiration, which amount to little more

than frittering it away. The book is a divine production; it is perfect, and is

the last court of appeal — ” the judge which ends the strife.” I would as

soon dream of blaspheming my Maker as of questioning the infallibility of

his word.

We are also sure concerning the doctrine of the blessed Trinity. We cannot

explain how the Father, Son, and Spirit can be each one distinct and perfect

in himself, and yet that these three are one, so that them is but one God;

yet we do verily believe it, and meat, to preach it, notwithstanding

Unitarian, Socinian, Sabellian, or any other error. We shall hold fast

evermore the doctrine of the-Trinity in Unity.

And, brethren; there will be no uncertain sound from us as to the

atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot leave the blood out of our

ministry, or the life of it; will be gone; for we may say of the gospel, “The

blood is the life thereof.” The proper substitution of Christ, the vicarious

sacrifice of Christ, on the behalf of his people, that they might live through

him, — this we must publish till we die.

Neither can we waver in our mind for a moment concerning the great; and

glorious Spirit of God — the fact of his existence, his personality, the

power of his working, the necessity of his influences, the certainty that no

man is regenerated except by him; that we are born again by the Spirit of

God, and that the Spirit dwells in believers, and is the author of all good in

them,. their sanctifier and preserver, without whom they can do no good

thing whatsoever : — we shall not at all hesitate as to preaching these



The absolute necessity of the new birth is also a certainty. We come down

with demonstration when we touch that point. We shall never poison our

people with the notion that a moral reformation will suffice, but we will

over and over again say to them, “Ye must be born again.” We have not

got into the condition of the Scotch minister who, when old John

Macdonald preached to his congregation a sermon to sinners, remarked,

“Well, Mr. Macdonald, that was a very good sermon which you have

preached, but it is very much out of place, for I do not know one single

unregenerate person in my congregation.” Poor soul, he was in all

probability unregenerated himself. No, we dare not flatter our hearers, but

we must continue to tell them that they are born sinners, and[ must be born

saints, or they will never see the face of God with acceptance.

The tremendous evil of sin — we shall not hesitate about that. We shall

speak on that matter both sorrowfully and positively; and, though some

very wise men raise difficult questions about hell, we shall not fail to

declare the terrors of the Lord, and the fact that the Lord has said, “These

shall go away into everlasting! punishments, but the righteous into life


Neither will we ever give an uncertain sound as to the glorious truth that

salvation is all of grace. If ever we ourselves are saved, we know that

sovereign grace alone has done it, and we feel it must be the same with

others. We will publish, “Grace grace grace!” with all our might, living and


We shall be very decided, also, as to justification by faith; for salvation is

“Not of works, lest any man should boast.” “Life in a look at the Crucified

One” will be our message. Trust in the Redeemer will be that saving grace

which we will pray the Lord to implant in all our hearers’ hearts.

And everything else which we believe to be true in the Scriptures we shall

preach with decision. If there be questions which may be regarded as moot,

or comparatively unimportant, we shall speak with such a measure of

decision about them as may be comely. But points which cannot be moot,

which are essential and fundamental, will be declared by us without any

stammering, without any inquiring of the people, “What would you wish us

to say?” ‘Yes, and without the apology, “Those are my views, but other

people’s views may be correct.” We ought to preach the gospel, not as our

views at all, but as the mind of God — the testimony of Jehovah

concerning his own Son, and in reference to salvation for lost men. If we


had been entrusted with the making of the gospel, we might have altered it

to suit the taste of this modest century, but never having been employed to

originate the good news, but merely to repeat it, we dare not stir beyond

the record. What we have been taught of God we teach. If we do, not do

this, we are not; fit for our position. If I have a servant in my house, and I

send a message by her to the door, and she amends it on her own authority,

she may take away the very soul of the message by so doing, and she will

be responsible for what; She has done. She will not remain long in my

employ, for I need a servant who will repeal; what I say, as nearly as

possible, word for Word; and if she does so, I am responsible for the

message, she is not. if any one should be angry with her on account of

what she said, they would be very unjust; their quarrel lies with me, and

not with the person whom I employ to act as mouth for me. He that hath

God’s Word, let him speak it faithfully, and he will have no need to answer

gainsayers, except with a “Thus saith the Lord.” This, then, is the matter

concerning which we are decided.

How are we to! show this decision? We need not be careful to answer this

question, our decision will show itself in its own way. If we really believe a

truth, we shall be decided about it. Certainly we are not to show our

decision by that obstinate, furious, wolfish bigotry Which cuts off every

other body from the chance and hope of salvation and the possibility of

being regenerate or even decently honest if they happen to {lifter from us

about the color of’ a scale of the great leviathan. Some individuals appear

to be naturally cut on the cross; they are manufactured to be rasps, and

rasp they will. Sooner than not quarrel with you they would raise a

question upon the color of invisibility, or the weight of a nonexistent

substance. They are up in arms with you, not because of the importance of

the question under discussion, but because of the far greater importance of

their being always the Pope of the party. Don’t go about the world with

your fist doubled u]? for fighting, carrying a theological revolver in the leg

of your trousers. There is no sense in being a sort of doctrinal game-cock,

to be carried about to show your spirit, or a terrier of orthodoxy, ready to

tackle heterodox rats by the score. Practice the suaviter in modo as well as

the fortiter in re. Be prepared to fight, and always have your sword

buckled on your thigh, but wear a scabbard; there can be no sense in

waving your weapon about before everybody’s eyes to provoke conflict,

after the manner of our beloved friends of the Emerald Isle, who are said to

take their coats off at Donnybrook Fair, and drag them along the ground,


crying out, while they flourish their shillelahs, “Will any gentleman be so

good as to tread on the tail of my coat?” These are .theologians of such

warm, generous blood, that they are never at peace till they are fully

engaged in war.

If you really believe the gospel, you will be decided for it in more sensible

ways. Your very tone will betray your sincerity; you will speak like a man

who has something to say, which he knows to be true. Have you ever

watched a rogue when he is about to tell a falsehood? Have you noticed

the way in which he has to mouth it? It takes a long time to be able to tell a

lie well, for the facial organs were not originally constituted and adapted

for the complacent delivery of falsehood. When a man knows he is telling

you the truth, everything about him corroborates his sincerity. Any

accomplished cross-examining lawyer knows within a little whether a

witness is genuine or a deceiver. Truth has her own air and manner, her

own tone and emphasis. Yonder is a blundering, ignorant country fellow in

the witness-box; the counsel tries to bamboozle and confuse him, if

possible, but all the while he feels that he is an honest witness, and he says

to himself, “I should like to shake this fellow’s evidence, for it will greatly

damage my side of the question.” There ought to be always that same air

of truth about the Christian minister; only as he is not only bearing witness

to the truth, but wants other people to feel that truth and own the power of

it, he ought to have more decision in his tone than a mere witness who is

stating facts which may be believed or not without any serious

consequences following either way. Luther Was the man for decision.

Nobody doubted that he believed what lie spoke. He spoke with thunder,

for there was lightning in his faith. The man preached all over, for his entire

nature believed. You felt, “Well, he may be mad, or he may be altogether

mistaken, but he assuredly believes what he says. He is the incarnation of

faith; his heart is running over at his lips.”

If we would Show decision, for the truth, we must not only do so by our

tone and manner, bat by our daily actions. A man’s life is always more

forcible than his speech; when men take stock of him they reckon his deeds

as pounds and his words as pence. If his life and his doctrines disagree, the

mass of lookers-on accept his practice and reject his preaching. A man may

know a great deal about truth, and yet be a very damaging witness on its

behalf, because he is no credit to it. The quack who in the classic story

cried up an infallible cure for colds, coughing and sneezing between every

sentence of his panegyric, may serve as the image and symbol of an unholy


minister. The Satyr in AEsop’s fable was indignant with the man who blew

hot and cold with the same mouth, and well he might be. I can conceive no

surer method of prejudicing men against the truth than by sounding her

praises through the lips of men of suspicious character. When the devil

turned preacher in our Lord’s day, the Master bade him hold his peace; he

did not care for Satanic praises. It is very ridiculous to hear good truth

from a bad man; it is like flour in a coal-sack. When I was last in one of our

Scottish towns I heard of an idiot at the asylum, who thought himself a

great historic character. With much solemnity the poor fellow put himself’

into an impressive attitude and exclaimed, “I’m Sir William Wallace! Gie

me a bit of bacca.” The descent from Sir William Wallace to a piece of

tobacco was too absurd for gravity; yet it was neither so absurd nor so sad

as to see a professed ambassador of the cross covetous, worldly,

passionate, or sluggish. How strange it would be to hear a man say, “I am a

servant ,of the Most High God, and I will go wherever I can get the most

salary. I am called to labor for the glory of Jesus only, and I will go

nowhere unless the church is of most respectable standing. For me to live is

Christ, but I cannot do it under five hundred pounds per annum.”

Brother, if the truth be in thee it will flow out of thine entire being as the

perfume streams from every bough of the sandal-wood tree; it will drive

thee onward as the trade-wind speeds the ships, filling all their sails; it will

consume thy whole nature with its energy as the forest fire bums up all the

trees of the wood. Truth. has not fully given thee her friendship till all thy

doings are marked with her seal.

We must show our decision for the truth by the sacrifices we are ready to

make. This is, indeed, the most efficient as well as the most trying method.

We must be ready to give up anything and everything for the sake of the

principles which we have espoused, and must be ready to offend our best

supporters, to alienate our warmest friends sooner than belie our

consciences. We, must be ready to be beggars in purse, and offscourings in

reputation, rather than act treacherously. We can die, but we cannot deny

the truth. The cost is already counted, and we are determined to buy the

truth at any price, and sell it at no price.. Too little of this spirit is abroad

now-a-days. Men have a saving faith, and save their own persons from

trouble; they have great; discernment, and know on which side their bread

is buffered; they are large-hearted, and are all things to all men, if by any

means they may save a sum. There are plenty of curs about, who would

follow at the heel of any man who would keep them in meat. They are


among the first to bark at decision, and call it obstinate dogmatism, and

ignorant bigotry. Their condemnatory verdict causes us no distress; it is

what we expected.

Above all we must show our zeal for the truth by continually, in season and

out of season, endeavoring to maintain it in the tenderest and most loving

manner, but still very earnestly and firmly. We must not talk to our

congregations as if we were half asleep. Our preaching must not; be

articulate snoring. There must be power, life, energy, vigor. We must

throw our whole selves into it, and show that the zeal of God’s house has

eaten us up.

How are we to manifest our decision? Certainly not by harping on one

string and repeating over and over again the same truths with the

declaration that we believe them. Such a course of action could only

suggest itself to the incompetent. The barrel-organ grinder is not a pattern

of decision, he may have persistency, but that is not the same thing as

consistency. I could indicate certain brethren who have learned four or five

doctrines, and they grind them over and over again with everlasting

monotony. I am always glad when they grind their tunes in some street far

removed from my abode. To weary with perpetual repetition is not the way

to manifest our firmness in the faith.

My brethren, you will strengthen your .decision by the recollection of the

importance of these truths to your own souls. Are your sins forgiven’!

Have you a hope of heaven? How do the solemnities of eternity affect you?

Certainly you are not saved apart from these things, and therefore you

must hold them, for you feel you are a lost man if they be not true. You

have to die, and, being conscious that these things alone can sustain you in

the last article, you hold them with all your might. .You cannot give them

up. How can a man resign a truth which he feels to be vitally important to

his own soul? He daily feels — “I have to live on it, I have to die on it, I

am wretched now, and lost for ever apart from it, and therefore by the help

of God I cannot relinquish it.”

Your own experience from day to day will sustain you, beloved brethren. I

hope you have realized already and will experience much more the power

of the truth which you preach. I believe the doctrine of election, because I

am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen

him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would

have chosen me afterwards; and he must have elected me for reasons


unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should

have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that

doctrine, I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart,

because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that there

dwelleth in my flesh no good thing. I cannot help holding that there must

be an atonement before there can be pardon, because my conscience

demands it, and my peace depends upon it. The little court; within my own

heart is not satisfied unless some retribution be exacted for dishonor done

to God, They tell us sometimes that such and such statements are not true;

but when we are able to reply that we have tried them and proved them,

what answer is there to such reasoning? A man propounds the wonderful

discovery that honey is not sweet. “But I had some for breakfast, and I

found it very sweet,” say you, and your reply is conclusive. He tells you

that salt is poisonous, but you point to your own health, and declare that

you have eaten salt these twenty years. He says that to eat bread is a

mistake — a vulgar error, an antiquated[ absurdity; but at each meal you

make his protest the subject for a merry laugh. If you .are daily’ and

habitually experienced in the truth of God’s Word, I am not afraid of your

being shaken in mind in reference to it. Those young fellows who never felt

conviction of sin, but obtained their religion as they get their bath in the

morning, by jumping into it — these Will as readily leap out of it as they

leaped in. Those who feel neither the joys nor yet; the depressions of spirit

which indicate spiritual life, are torpid, and their palsied hand has no firm

grit) of truth. Mere skimmers of the Word, who, like swallows, touch the

water with their wings, are the first to fly from one land to another as

personal considerations guide them. They .believe this, and then believe

that, for’, in truth, they believe nothing intensely. If you have ever been

dragged through the mire and clay of soul-despair, if you have been turned

upside down, and wiped out like a dish as to all your own strength and

pride, and have then been filled with the joy and peace of God, through

Jesus Christ, I will trust you among fifty thousand infidels. Whenever I

hear the skeptic’s stale attacks upon the Word of God, I smile within

myself, and think, “Why, you simpleton! how can you urge such trifling

objections? I have felt, in the contentions of my own unbelief, ten times

greater difficulties.” We who have contended with horses are not to be

wearied by footmen. Gordon Cumming and other lion-killers are not to be

scared by wild cats, nor will those who have stood foot to foot with Satan

resign the field to pretentious skeptics, or any other of the evil one’s

inferior servants.


If, my brethren, we have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot

be made to doubt the fundamentals of the gospel; neither can we be

undecided, glimpse at the thorn-crowned head and pierced hands and feet

is the sure cure for “modern doubt” and all its vagaries. Get into the “Rock

of Ages, cleft for you,” and you will abhor the quicksand. That eminent

American preacher, the seraphic Summerfield, when he lay a dying, turned

round to a friend in the room and said, “I have taken a look into eternity.

Oh, if I could come back and preach again, how differently would I preach

from what I have done before I” Take a look into eternity, brethren, if you

want to be decided. Remember how Atheist met Christian and Hopeful on

the road to the New Jerusalem, and said, “There is no celestial country. I

have gone a long way, and could not find it.” Then Christian said to

Hopeful, “Did we not see it from the top of Mount Clear, when we were

with the shepherds?” There was an answer I So when men have said,

“There is no Christ — -there is no truth in religion,” we have replied to

them, “Have we not sat under his shadow with great delight? Was not his

fruit sweet to our taste?’ Go with your Skepticism’s to those who do not

know whom they have believed. We have tasted and handled the good

word of life. What we have Seen and heard, that we do testify; and

whether men receive our testimony or not, we cannot but speak it, for we

speak what we do know, and testify what we have seen.” That, my

brethren, is the sure way to be decided.

And now, lastly, why should we at this particular’ age be decided and

bold? We should be so because this age is a doubting age. It swarms with

doubters as Egypt of old with frogs. You rub against them everywhere.

Everybody is doubting everything, not merely in religion, but in politics and

social economics, in everything indeed. ‘It is the era of progress, and I

suppose it must be the age, therefore, of unloosening, in order that the

whole body politic may move on a little further. Well, brethren, as the age

is doubling, it is wise for us to put our foot down and stand still where we

are sure we have truth beneath us. Perhaps, if it were an age of bigotry,

and men would not learn, we might be more inclined to listen to new

teachers; but now the Conservative side must be ours, or rather the Radical

side, which is the truly Conservative side. We must go back to the radix, or

root of truth, and stand sternly by that which God has revealed, and so

meet the wavering of the age. Our eloquent neighbor, Mr. Arthur Mursell,

has well hit off the present age : —


“Have we gone too far in saying that modern thought has grown impatient

with the Bible, the gospel, and the cross? Let us see. What [part of the

Bible has it not assailed? The Pentateuch it has long ago swept from the

canon as inauthentic. What we read about the creation and the flood is

branded as fable. And the laws about the landmarks, from which Solomon

was not ashamed to quote, are buried or laid upon the shelf.

“Different men assail different portions of the book, and various systems

level their batteries of prejudice at various points; until by some the

Scripture is torn all to pieces, and cast to the four winds of heaven, and by

even the most forbearing of the cultured Vandals of what is called modem

thought, it is condensed into a thin pamphlet of morality, instead of the

tome of teaching through which we have eternal life. There is hardly a

prophet but has been reviewed by the wiseacres of the day in precisely the

same spirit ms they would review a work from Mudie’s library. The

Temanite and the Shuhite never misconstrued the baited Job with half the

prejudice of the acknowledged intellects of our time. Isaiah, instead Of

being sawn asunder, is quartered and hacked in pieces. The weeping

prophet is drowned in his own tears. Ezekiel is ground to atoms amidst his

wheels. Daniel is devoured bodily by the learned lions. Am1 Jonah is

swallowed by the deep monsters with a more inexorable voracity than the

fish, for they never cast him up again. The histories and events of the great

chronicle are rudely contradicted and gainsaid, because some schoolmaster

with a slate and pencil cannot bring his sums right. And every miracle

which the might of the Lord wrought for the favor of his people, or the

frustration of their foes, is pooh-poohed as an absurdity, because the

professors cannot do the like with their enchantments. A few of what are

called miracles may be credible, because our leaders think they can do them

themselves. A few natural phenomena, which some doctor can show to a

company of martinets in a dark room, or with a table-full of apparatus, will

account for the miracle of the Red Sea. An aeronaut goes up in a balloon,

and then comes down again, and quite explains away the pillar of fire and

of cloud, and trifles of that kind. And so our great men are satisfied when

they think that their toy wand has swallowed up the wand of Aaron :: but

when Aaron’s wand threatens to swallow up theirs, they say that part is not

authentic, and that miracle never occurred.

“Nor does the New Testament fare any better than the Old at the hands of

these invaders. There is no toll of deference levied on their homage as they

pass across the line. They recognize no voice of warning with the cry,


‘Take thy shoes from off thy feet, because the place whereon thou standest

is holy ground.’ The mind which halts in its career of spiritual rapine on

any reverential pretext, is denounced as ignorant, or slavish. To hesitate to

stamp the hoof upon a lily or a spring flower is the sentimental folly of a

child, and the, vanguard of the thought of the age has only pity and a sneer

for such a feeling, as it stalks upon its boasted march of progress.. ‘We are

told that the legends of our nurseries are obsolete, and that broader views

are gaining ground with thoughtful minds. We are unwilling to believe it.

The truth is, that a few, a very few, thoughtful men, whose thinking

consists in negation from first to last, and whose minds are tortured with a

chronic twist or curve, which turns them into intellectual notes of

interrogation, have laid the basis of this system; these few honest doubters

have been joined by a larger band who are simply restless; and these again

by men who are inimical to the spirit and the truths of Scripture, and

together they have formed a coterie, and called themselves the leaders of

the thought, of the age. They have a following, it is true; but of whom does

it consist? Of the mere satellites; of fashion. Of the wealth, the pedantry,

and the stupidity’ of our barge populations. A string of carriages is seen

‘setting down’ and ‘taking up’ at the door where an advanced professor is

to lecture, and because the milliner is advertised from floor to ceiling in the

lecture room, these views are said to be gaining ground. But in an age of

fashion like this, who ever suspects these minions of the mode of having

any views at all? It becomes respectable to follow a certain name for a

time, and so the vainlings go to follow the name and to display the dress.

But as to views, one would no more suspect such people of having any

views than they would dream of charging more than a tenth part of the

crowds who go to the Royal Academy’s exhibition with understanding the

laws of perspective. It is the thing to do: and so every one who has a dress

to show and a lounge to air, goes to show it, and all who would be in the

fashion (and who would not?) are bound to advance with the times. And

hence we find the times advancing over the sacred precincts of the New

Testament, as though it Were the floor of St. Alban’s or of a professor’s

lecture room; and ladies drag their trains, and dandies set their dress-boots

on the authenticity of this, or the authority of that, or the inspiration of the

other. People who never heard of Strauss, of Bauer, or Of Tubingen, are

quite prepared to say that our Savior was but a well-meaning man, who

had a great many faults, and made a great many mistakes; that his miracles,

as recorded in the New Testament, were in part imaginary, and in part

accountable by natural theories; that the raising of Lazarus never occurred,


since the Gospel of John is a forgery from first to last; that the atonement is

a doctrine to be scouted as bloody and unrighteous; that Paul was a fanatic

who wrote unthinkingly, and that much of what bears his name was never

written by him at all. Thus is the Bible rubbed through the tribulum of

criticism from Genesis to Revelation, until, in the faith of the age in which

we live, as represented by its so-called leaders, there are but a few inspired

fragments here and there remaining.”

Moreover, after all, this is not an earnestly doubting age; we live among a

careless, frivolous race. If the doubters were honest there would be more

infidel places of concourse than there are; but infidelity as an organized

community does not prosper. Infidelity in London, open and avowed, has

come down to one old corrugated iron shed opposite St. Luke’s. I believe

that is the present position of it. “The Hall of Science” is it not called? Its

literature was carried on for a long time in half a shop in Fleet Street, that

was all it Could manage to support, and I don’t know whether even that

half Shop is used now. It is a poor, doting, drivelling thing. In Tom Paine’s

time it bullied like a vigorous blasphemer, but it was outspoken, and, in its

own way, downright and earnest in its outspokenness. It commanded in

former days some names which one might, mention with a measure of

respect; humor to wit, and Bolingbroke, and Voltaire were great in talent,

if not in character. But where now will you find a Hobbes or a Gibbon?

The doubters now are usually doubters because they do not care about

truth at all. They are indifferent altogether. Modern skepticism is playing

and toying with truth; and it takes to “modern thought” as an amusement,

as ladies take to croquet or archery. This is nothing less than an age of

millinery and dolls and comedy. Even good people do not believe out and

out as their fathers used to do. Some even among Nonconformists are

shamefully lax in their convictions; they have few masterly convictions such

as would lead them to the stake, or even to imprisonment. Molluses have

taken the place of men, and men are turned to jelly-fishes. Far from us be

the desire to imitate them.

Moreover it is an age which is very impressible, and therefore I should like

to see you very decided, that you may impress it. The wonderful progress

made in England by the High Church movement shows that earnestness is

power. The Ritualists believe something, and that fact has given them

influence. To me their distinctive creed is intolerable nonsense, and their

proceedings are childish foolery; but they have dared to go against the

mob, and have turned the mob round to their side. Bravely did they battle,


let us say it to their honor; when their churches became the scenes of riot

and disorder, and there was raised the terrible howl of “No Popery” by the

lower orders, they boldly confronted the foe and never winced. They went

against the whole current of what was thought to be the deep-seated

feeling of England in favor of Protestantism, and with scarcely a bishop to

patronize them, and but few loaves and fishes of patronage, they have

increased from a handful to become the dominant and most vital party in

the Church of ]England, and to our intense surprise and horror they have

brought people to receive again the Popery’ which we thought dead anti

buried. If anybody had told me twenty years ago that the witch of Endor

would become Queen of England, I should as soon have believed it as that

we should now have such a High Church development; but the fact is, the

men were earnest and decided, and held what they believed most firmly,

and did not hesitate to push their cause. The age, therefore, can be

impressed; it will receive what is taught by zealous men, whether it be truth

or falsehood. It may be objected that falsehood will be received the more

readily; that is just possible, but anything will be accepted by men if you

will but preach it with tremendous energy and living earnestness. If they

will not receive it into their hearts in a spiritual sense, yet at any rate there

will be a mental assent and consent, very much in proportion to the energy’

with which you proclaim it; ay, and God will bless our decision too, so that

when the mind is gained by our earnestness, and the attention is won by

our zeal, the heart itself will be opened by the Spirit of God.

We must be decided. What have Dissenters been doing to a great extent

lately but trying to be fine? How many of our ministers are laboring to be

grand orators or intellectual thinkers. That is not the thing. Our young

ministers have been dazzled by that, and have gone off to bray like wild

asses under the notion that they’ would then be reputed to have come from

Jerusalem, or to have., been reared in Germany. The world has found them

out. There is nothing now I believe that genuine Christians despise more

than the foolish affectation of intellectualism. You will hear a good old

deacon say, “Mr. So-and-so, whom we had here, was a very clever man,

and preached wonderful sermons, but the cause has gone down through it.

We can hardly support the minister, and we me, an next time to have one of

the old-fashioned ministers back again who believe in something and

preach it. There will be no addition to our church else.” Will you go out

and tell the people that you believe you can say something, but you hardly

know what; you are not quite sure that what you preach is correct, but the


trust-deed requires you to say it, and therefore you say it? Why, you may

cause fools and idiots to be pleased with you, and you well be sure to

propagate infidelity, but you cannot do more. When a prophet comes

forward he must speak as from the Lord, and if he cannot do that, let him

go back to his bed. It is quite certain, dear friends, that now or never we

must be decided, because the age is manifestly drifting. You cannot watch

for twelve months without seeing how it is going down the tide; the

anchors are pulled up, and the vessel is floating to destruction. It is drifting

now, as near as I can tell you, south-east, and is nearing Cape Vatican, and

if it drives much further in that direction it will be on the rocks of the

Roman reef. We must get aboard her, and connect her with the glorious

steam-tug of gospel truth, and drag her back. I should be glad if I could

take her round by Cape Calvin, right up into the Bay of Calvary, and

anchor her in the fair haven which is close over by Vera Cruz, or the cross.

God grant us grace to do it. We must have a strong hand, and have our

steam well up, and defy the current; and so by God’s grace we shall both

save this age and the generations yet to come.




THERE are some customs for which nothing can be pleaded, except that

they are ‘very old. In such cases antiquity is of no more value than the rust

upon a counterfeit coin. It is, however, a happy circumstance when the

usage of ages can be pleaded for a really good and scriptural practice, for

it; invests it with a halo of reverence. Now, it can be argued, with small

fear of refutation, that open air preaching is as old as preaching itself. We

are at full liberty to believe that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, when he

prophesied, asked for no better pulpit than the hill-side, and that Noah, as a

preacher of righteousness, was willing to reason with his. contemporaries

in the ship-yard wherein his marvelous ark was builded. Certainly, Moses

and Joshua found their most convenient place for addressing vast

assemblies beneath the un-pillared arch of heaven. Samuel dosed a sermon

in the field at Gilgal amid threader and rain, by which the Lord rebuked the

people and drove them to their knees. Elijah stood on Carmel, and

challenged the vacillating nation, with “How long halt ye between two

opinions?” Jonah, whose: spirit was somewhat similar, lifted up his cry of

warning in the streets of Nineveh, and in all her places of concourse gave

forth the warning utterance, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shah be

overthrown! “To hear Ezra and Nehemiah “all the people gathered

themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water

gate.” Indeed, ‘we find examples of open air preaching everywhere around

us in the records of the Old Testament.

It may suffice us, however, to go back as far as the origin of our own holy

faith, and there we hear the forerunner of the Savior crying in the

wilderness and lifting up his voice from the river’s bank. Our Lord himself,

who is yet more our pattern, delivered[ the larger proportion of his

sermons on the mountain’s side, or by the sea shore, or in the streets. Our

Lord was to all intents and purposes an open air preacher. He did not

remain silent in the synagogue, but he was equally at home in the field. We

have no discourse of his on record delivered in the chapel royal, but we

have the sermon on the mount, and the sermon in the plain; so that the very


earliest and most divine kind of preaching was practiced out of doors by

him who spake as never man spake.

There were gatherings of his disciples after his decease, within walls,

especially that in the upper room; but the preaching was even then most

frequently in the court of the temple, or in such other open spaces as were

available. The notion of holy places and consecrated meeting-houses had

not occurred to them as Christians; they preached in the temple because it

was the chief place of concourse, but with equal earnestness “in every

house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

The apostles and their immediate successors delivered their message of

mercy not only in their own hired houses, and in the synagogues, but also

anywhere and everywhere as occasion served them. This may be gathered

incidentally from the following statement of Eusebius. “The divine and

admirable disciples of the apostles built up the superstructure of the

churches, the foundations whereof the apostles had laid, in all places where

they came; they everywhere prosecuted the preaching of the gospel,

sowing the seeds of heavenly doctrine throughout the whole world. Many

of the disciples then .’dive distributed their estates to the poor; and, leaving

their own country, did the work of evangelists to those who had never yet

heard the Christian faith, preaching Christ, and delivering the evangelical

writings to them. No sooner had they planted the faith in any foreign

countries, and ordained guides and pastors, to whom they committed the

care of these new plantations, but they went to other nations, assisted by

the grace, and powerful working of the Holy Spirit. As soon as they began

to preach the gospel the people flocked universally to them, and cheerfully

worshipped the true God, the Creator of the world, piously and heartily

believing in his name.”

As the dark ages lowered, the best preachers of the gradually declining

church were also preachers in the open air; as were also those itinerant

friars and great founders of religious orders who kept alive such piety as

remained. We hear of Berthold, of Ratisbon, with audiences of sixty or a

hundred thousand, in a field near Glatz in Bohemia. There were also

Bernards, and Bernardines, and Anthonys, and: Thomases of great fame as

traveling preachers, of whom we cannot find time to speak particularly. Dr.

Lavington, Bishop of Exeter, being short of other arguments, stated, as a

proof that the Methodists were identical with the Papists, that the early

Friar Preachers were great at holding forth in the open fields. Quoting from


Ribadeneira, he mentions Peter of Verona, who had “a divine talent in

preaching; neither churches, nor streets, nor market-places could contain

the great concourse that resorted to hear his sermons.” The learned bishop

might have easily multiplied his examples, as we also could do, but they

would prove nothing more than that, for good or evil, field preaching is a

great power.

When Antichrist had commenced its more universal sway, the Reformers

before the Reformation were full often open air preachers, as, for instance,

Arnold of Brescia, who denounced Papal usurpations at the very gates of

the Vatican.

It would be Very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been

accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of

doors, or in unusual places. The first avowed preaching of Protestant

doctrine was almost necessarily in the open air, or in buildings which were

not dedicated to worship, for these were in the hands of the Papacy. True,

Wycliffe for a while preached the gospel in the church at Lutterworth;

Huss, and Jerome, and Savonarola for a time delivered semi-gospel

addresses in connection with the ecclesiastical arrangements around them;

but when they began more fully to know and proclaim the gospel, they

were driven to find other platforms. The Reformation when yet a babe was

like the new-born Christ, and had not where to lay its head, but a company

of men comparable to the heavenly host proclaimed it under the open

heavens, where shepherds and common people heard them gladly.

Throughout England we have several trees remaining called!” gospel

oaks.” There is one spot on the other side of the Thames known by the

name of “Gospel Oak,” and I have myself preached at Addlestone, in

Surrey, under the far-spreading boughs of an ancient oak, beneath which

John Knox is said to have proclaimed the gospel during his sojourn in

England. Full many a wild moor, and lone hill side, and secret spot in the

forest have been consecrated in the same fashion, and traditions still linger

over caves, and dells, and hill tops, where of old time the bands of the

faithful met to hear the word of the Lord. Nor was it alone in solitary

places that in days of yore the voice ,of the preacher was heard, for

scarcely is there a market cross which has not served as a pulpit for

itinerant gospellers. During the lifetime of Wycliffe his missionaries

traversed the country, everywhere preaching the word. An Act of

Parliament of Richard II. (1382) sets it forth as a grievance of the clergy

that a number of persons in frieze gowns went from town to town, without


the license of the ordinaries, and preached not only in churches, but in

churchyards, and market-places, and also at fairs. To hear these heralds of

the cross the country people flocked in great numbers, and the soldiers

mingled with the crowd, ready to defend the preachers with their swords if

any offered to molest them. After Wycliffe’s decease his followers scrupled

not to use the same methods. It is specially recorded of William Swinderby

that, “being excommunicated, and forbidden to preach in any church or

churchyard, lie made a pulpit of two mill-stones in the High-street of

LeiceSter, and there preached ‘ in contempt of the bishop.’ ‘There? says

Knighton, ‘you might see throngs of people from every part, as well from

the town as the country, double the number there used to be when they

might hear him lawfully.’“

In Germany and other continental countries the Reformation was greatly

aided by the sermons delivered to the masses out of doors. We read of

Lutheran preachers perambulating the country proclaiming the new

doctrine to crowds in the market-places, and burial-grounds, and also on

mountains and in meadows. At Goslar a Wittemberg student preached in a

meadow planted with lime-trees, which procured for his hearers the

designation of “the Lime-tree Brethren.” D’Aubigne tells us that at

Appenzel, as the crowds could not be contained in the churches, the

preaching was held in the fields and public squares, and, notwithstanding

keen opposition, the hills, meadows, and mountains echoed with the glad

tidings of salvation. In the life of Farel we meet with incidents connected

with out-of-doors ministry; for instance, when at Metz he preached his first

sermon in the churchyard of the Dominicans, his enemies caused all the

bells to be tolled, but his voice of thunder overpowered the sound. In

Neuchatel we are told that “the whole town became his church. He

preached in the market-place, in the streets, at the gates, before the houses,

and in the squares, and with such persuasion and effect that he won over

many to the gospel. The people crowded to hear his sermons, and could

not be kept back either by threats or persuasions.”

From Dr. Wylie’s “History of Protestantism” I borrow the following: —

“It is! said that the first field-preaching in the Netherlands took place on

the 14th of June, 1566, and was held in the neighborhood of Ghent. The

preacher was Helman Modet, who had formerly been a monk, but was now

the reformed pastor at Oudenard. ‘This man,’ says a Popish chronicler,

‘was the first Who ventured! to preach in public, and there were 7,000

persons at his first sermon.’ The second great field-preaching took place on


the 23rd of July following, the people assembling in a large meadow in the

vicinity of Ghent. The ‘ Word’ was precious in those days, and the people,

eagerly thirsting to hear it, prepared to remain two days consecutively on

the ground. Their arrangements more resembled an army pitching their

camp than a peaceful multitude assembled for worship. Around the

worshippers was a wall of barricades in the shape of carts and wagons.

Sentinels were placed at all the entrances. A rude pulpit of planks was

hastily run. up and placed aloft on a cart. Modet was preacher, and around

him were many thousands of persons, who listened with their pikes,

hatchets, and guns lying by their sides ready to be grasped on a sign from

the sentinels who kept watch all. around the assembly. In front of the

entrances were erected stalls, whereat peddlers offered prohibited books to

all who wished to! buy. Along the roads running into the country were

stationed certain persons, whose office it was to bid the casual passenger

turn in and hear the Gospel ..... When the services were finished, the

multitude would repair to other districts, where they encamped after the

same fashion, and remained for the same space of time, and so passed

through the whole of West Flanders. At these conventicles the Psalms of

David, which had been translated into Low Dutch from’ the version of

Clement Marot, and Theodore Beza, were always sung. The odes of the

Hebrew king, pealed forth by from five to ten thousand voices, and borne

by the breeze over the woods and meadows, might be heard at great

distances, arresting the ploughman as he turned the furrow, or the traveler

as he pursued his way, and making him stop and wonder whence the

minstrelsy proceeded.” It is most interesting to observe that congregational

singing is sure to revive at the same moment as gospel-preaching. In all

ages a Moody has been attended by a Sankey. History repeats itself

because like causes are pretty sure to produce like effects..

It would be an interesting task to prepare a volume of notable facts

connected with open air preaching, or, better still, a consecutive history of

it. I have no time for even a complete outline, but would simply ask you,

where would the Reformation have been if its great; preachers had

confined themselves to churches and cathedrals? How would the common

people have become indoctrinated with the gospel had it not been for those

far wandering evangelists, the colporteurs, and those daring innovators

who found a pulpit on every heap of stones, and an audience chamber in

every open space near the abodes of men?


Among examples within our own highly favored island I cannot forbear

mentioning the notable ease of holy Wishart. This I quote from Gillie’s

“Historical Collections” —

“George Wishart was one of the early preachers of the doctrines of the

Reformers, and suffered martyrdom in the days of Knox. His public

exposition of the Epistle to the Romans especially excited the fears and

hatred of the Romish ecclesiastics, who caused him to be silenced at

Dundee. He went to Ayr, and began to preach the gospel with great

freedom and faithfulness. But Dunbar, the then Archbishop of Glasgow,

being informed of the great concourse of people who crowded[ to his

sermons, at the instigation of Cardinal Beaten, went to Ayr, with the

resolution to apprehend him; but first took possession of the church, to

prevent him from preaching in it. The news of this brought Alexander, Earl

of Gleneairn, and some gentlemen of the neighborhood immediately to

town. They wished and offered to put Wishart into the church, but he

would not consent, saying, ‘ that the Bishop’s sermon would not do much

hurt, and that, if they pleased, he would go to the market cross/which he

accordingly did, and preached[ with such success, that several of his

hearers, formerly enemies to the truth, were converted on the occasion.

“Wishart continued with the gentlemen of Kyle, after the archbishop’s

departure; and being desired to preach next Lord’s-day at the church of

Mauchline, he went thither with that design, but the sheriff of Ayr had, in

the night time, put a garrison of soldiers into the church to keep him out.

Hugh Campbell, of Kinzeaneleugh, with others in the parish, were

exceedingly offended at this impiety, and would have entered the church by

force; but Wishart would not suffer it, saying, ‘Brethren, it is the word of

peace which I preach unto you; the blood of no man shall be shed for it this

day: Jesus Christ is as mighty in the fields as in the church, and he, himself,

while he lived in the flesh, preached oftener in the desert and upon the sea

side than in the temple of Jerusalem.’ Upon this the people were appeased,

and went with him to the edge of the moor, on the southwest of

Mauchline, where having placed himself upon a ditch-dike, he preached to

a great multitude. He continued speaking for more than three hours, God

working wondrously by him; insomuch that Laurence Ranken, the Laird of

Shield, a very profane person, was converted by his means. About a month

after the above circumstance, he was informed that the plague had broken

out at Dundee, the fourth day after he had left it; and that it still continued

to rage in such a manner that great numbers were swept off daily. This


affected him so much, that he resolved to return to them, and accordingly

took leave of his friends in the west, who were filled with sorrow at ibis

departure. The next day, after his arrival at Dundee, he caused intimation

to be made that he would preach; and for that purpose chose his station at

the head of the east gate, the infected persons standing without, and those

that were whole, within. His text on this occasion was Psalm 112:20: ‘ He

sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.’

By this discourse he so comforted the people, that they thought themselves

happy in having such a preacher, and en-treated him to remain with them

while the plague continued.” What a scene must this have been? Seldom

has preacher had such an audience, and, I may add, seldom has audience

had such a preacher. Then, to use the words of an old author, “Old time

stood at the preacher’s side with his scythe, saying with hoarse voice,

‘Work While it is called to-day, for at night I will mow thee down.’ There,

too, stood grim death hard by the pulpit, with his sharp arrows, saying, ‘

Do thou shoot God’s arrows and I will shoot mine.’“ This is, indeed, a

notable instance of preaching out of doors.

I wish it were in my power to give more particulars of that famous

discourse by John Livingstone in the yard of the Kirk of Shotts, when not

less than five hundred of his hearers found Christ, though it rained in

torrents during a considerable part of the time., it remains as one of the

great out-door sermons of history, unsurpassed by any within walls. Here

is the gist of what we know about it: —

“It was not usual, it seems, in those times, to have any sermon on the

Monday after dispensing the Lord’s Supper. But God had given so much

of his gracious presence, and afforded his people so much communion with

himself, on the foregoing days of that solemnity, that they knew not how to

part without thanksgiving and praise. There had been a vast confluence of

choice Christians, with several eminent ministers, from almost all the

corners of the land. There had been many of them there together for

several days before the sacrament, hearing sermons, and joining together in

larger or lesser companies, in prayer, praise, and spiritual conferences.

While their hearts were warm with the love of God, some expressing their

desire of a sermon on the Monday, were joined by others, and in a little the

desire became very general. Mr. John Livingstone, chaplain to the

Countess of Wigtoun (at that time only a preacher, not an ordained

minister, and about twenty-seven. years of age), was with very much ado

prevailed on to think of giving the sermon. He had spent the night before in


prayer and conference; but when he was alone in the fields, about eight or’

nine in the morning, there came such a misgiving of heart upon him under a

sense of unworthiness and unfitness to speak before so many aged and

worthy ministers, and so many eminent and experienced Christians; that he

was thinking to have stolen quite away, and was actually gone away to

some distance; but when just about to lose sight of the Kirk of Shorts these

words, ‘ Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a hind of darkness?’ were

brought into his heart with such an overcoming power, as constrained him

to think it his duty to return and comply with the call to preach; which he

accordingly did with good assistance for about an hour and a half on the

points he had meditated from that text, Ezekiel 36:25, 26: ‘ Then will I

sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your

filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart, also will

I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the

stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.’ As he

was about: to close, a heavy shower coming suddenly on, which made the

people hastily take to their cloaks and mantles, he began to speak to the

following purpose: ‘ If a few drops of rain from the clouds so discomposed

them, how discomposed would they be, how full of horror and despair, if

God should deal with them as they deserved: and thus he will deal with all

the finally impenitent. That God might justly rain fire and brimstone upon

them, as upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain. That

the Son of God, by tabernacling in our nature, and obeying and suffering in

it, is the only refuge and covert from the storm of divine wrath due to us

for sin. That his merits and mediation are the alone screen from that storm,

and none but penitent believers shall have the benefit of that shelter.’ In

these or some expressions to this purpose, and many others, he was led on

for about an hour’s time (after he had done with what he had premeditated)

in a strain of exhortation and warning, with great enlargement and melting

of heart.”

We must not forget the regular out-of-doors ministry at Paul’s Gross,

under the caves of the old cathedral. This was a famous institution, and

enabled the notable preachers of the times to be heard by the citizens in

great numbers. Kings and princes did not disdain to sit in the gallery built

upon the cathedral wall, and listen to the preacher for the day. Latimer tells

us that the graveyard was in such an unhealthy condition that many died

through attending the sermons; and yet there was never a lack of hearers.

Now that the abomination of intramural burial is done away with, the]like


evil would not arise, and Paul’s Cross might be set up again; perhaps a

change to the open space might blow away some of the Popery which is

gradually attaching itself to the services of the cathedral. The restoration of

the system of public preaching of which Paul’s Cross was the central

station is greatly to be desired. I earnestly wish that some person possessed

of sufficient wealth would purchase a central space in our great metropolis,

erect a pulpit, and a certain number of benches, and then set it apart for the

use of approved ministers of the gospel, who should there freely declare

the gospel to all comers without favor or distinction. It would be of more

real service to our ever-growing city than all its cathedrals, abbeys, and

grand Gothic edifices. Before all open spaces are utterly swept away by the

evict-swelling tide of mortar and brick, it would be a wise: policy to Secure

Gospel Fields, or God’s-acres-for-the-living, or whatever else you may

please to call open spaces for free gospel preaching,.

All through the Puritan times there were gatherings in all sorts of out-ofthe-

way places, for fear of persecutors. “We took,” says Archbishop Land,

in a letter dated Fulham, June, 1832, “another conventicle of separatists in

Newington Woods, in the very’ brake where the king’s stag was to be

lodged, for his hunting next morning” A hollow or gravel-pit on Hounslow

Heath sometimes served as a conventicle, trod there is a dell near Hichin

where John Bunyan was wont to preach in perilous times. All over

Scotland the straths, and dells, and vales, and hill. sides are full of

covenanting memories to this day. You will not fail to meet with rock

pulpits, whence the stern fathers of the Presbyterian church thundered forth

their denunciations of Erastianism, and pleaded the claims of the King of

kings. Cargill and Cameron and their fellows found congenial scenes for

their brave ministries mid the lone mountains’ rents and ravines,

“Long ere the dawn, by devious ways,


O’er hills, through woods, o’er dreary wastes, they sought

The upland moors, where rivers, there hut brooks,

Dispart to different seas: fast by such brooks,

A little glen is sometimes scoop’d, a plat

With greensward gay, and flowers that strangers seem

Amid the heathery wild, that all around

Fatigues the eye: in solitudes like these

Thy persecuted children, Scotia, foil’d

A tyrant’s and a bigot’s bloody law.

There, leaning on his spear ....

The lyart veteran heard the word of God

By Cameron thunder’d, or by Renwick pour’d

In gentle stream: then rose the song, the loud

Acclaim of praise; the wheeling plover ceased

Her plaint; the solitary place was glad,

And on the distant cairns, the watcher’s ear

Caught doubtfully at times the breeze-borne note.

But years more gloomy follow’d; and no more

The assembled people dared, in face of day,

To worship God, or even at the dead

Of night, save when the wintry storm raved fierce,

And thunder-peals compell’d the men of blood

To couch within their dens; then dauntlessly

The scatter’d few would meet, in some deep dell

By rocks o’er-canopied, to hear the voice,

Their faithful pastor’s voice: he by the gleam

Of sheeted lightning oped the sacred hook,

And words of comfort spake: over their souls

His accents soothing came, as to her young

The heathfowrs plumes, when at the close of eve

She gathers in, mournful, her brood dispersed

By murderous sport, and o’er the remnant spreads

Fondly her wings; close nestling ‘neath her breast

They cherish’d cower amid the purple blooms.”

At the risk of being prolix I feel I must add the following touching

description of one of these scenes. The prose picture even excels the poet’s


“We entered on the administration of the holy ordinance, committing it and

ourselves to the invisible protection of the Lord of hosts, in whose name

we were met together. Our trust was in the arm of Jehovah, which was

better than weapons of war, or the strength of the hills. The place where


we convened was every way commodious, and seemed to have been

formed on purpose. It was a green and pleasant haugh fast by the water

side (the Whittader). On either hand there was a spacious brae, in the form

of a half round, covered with delightful pasture, and rising with a gentle

slope to a goodly height. .Above us was the clear blue sky, for it was a

sweet and calm Sabbath morning, promising indeed to be ‘one of the days

of the Son of man.’ There was a solemnity in the place befitting the

occasion, and elevating the whole soul to a pure and holy frame. The

communion tables were spread on the green by the water, and around them

the people had arranged themselves in decent order. Butt the far greater

multitude sat on the brae face,, which was crowded from top to bottom —

full as pleasant a sight as ever was seen of that sort. Each day at the

congregation’s dismissing the ministers with their guards, and as many of

the people as could, retired to their quarters in three several country towns,

where they might be provided with necessaries. The horsemen drew up in a

body till the people left the place, and then marched in goodly array behind

at a little distance, until all were safely lodged in their quarters. In the

morning, when the people returned to the meeting, the horsemen

accompanied them: all the three parties met a mile from the spot, and

marched in a full body to the consecrated ground. The congregation being

all fairly settled in their places, the guardsmen took their several stations, as

formerly. These accidental volunteers seemed to have been the gift of

Providence, and they secured the peace and quiet; of the audience; for,

from Saturday morning, when the work began, until Monday afternoon, we

suffered not the least affront or molestation from enemies, which appeared

wonderful. At first there was some apprehension, but the people sat

undisturbed, and the whole was closed in as orderly a way as it had been in

the time of Scotland’s brightest noon. And truly the spectacle of so many

grave, composed, and devout faces must have struck the adversaries with

awe, and been more formidable than any outward ability’ of fierce looks

and warlike array. We desired not the countenance of earthly kings: there

was a spiritual and divine Majesty shining on the work, and sensible

evidence that the great Master of assemblies was present in the midst. It

was indeed the doing of the Lord, who covered us a table in the

wilderness, in presence of our foes; and reared a pillar of glory between us

and the enemy, like the fiery cloud of old that separated between the camp

of Israel and the Egyptians — encouraging to the one, but dark and terrible

to the other. Though our vows were not offered within the courts of God’s

house, they wanted not sincerity of heart, which is better than the


reverence of sanctuaries. Amidst the lonely mountains we remembered the

words of our Lord, that true worship was not peculiar to Jerusalem or

Samaria — that the beauty of holiness consisted not in consecrated

buildings or material temples. We remembered the ark of the Israelites

which had sojourned for years in the desert, with no dwelling place but the

tabernacle of the plain. We thought of Abraham and the ancient patriarchs,

who! laid their victims on the rocks for an altar, and burnt sweet incense

under the shade of the green tree.

“The ordinance of the Last Supper, that memorial of his dying love till his

second coming, was signally countenanced and backed with power am[

refreshing influence from above. Blessed be God, for he hath visited and

confirmed his heritage when it was weary. In that day Zion put on the

beauty of Sharon and Cannel; the mountains broke forth into singing, and

the desert place was made to bud and[ blossom as the rose. Few such days

were seen in the desolate Church of Scotland; and few will ever witness the

like. There was a rich effusion of the Spirit shed abroad in many hearts;

their souls, filled with heavenly transports, seemed to breathe a diviner

element, and to burn upwards as with the fire of a pure and holy devotion.

The ministers were visibly assisted to speak home to the conscience of the

hearers. It seemed as if God had touched their lips with a live coal from off

his altar: for they who witnessed declared they carried themselves more

like ambassadors from the court of heaven than men cast in earthly mold.

“The tables were served by some gentlemen and persons of the gravest

deportment. None were admitted without tokens as usual, which were

distributed on the Saturday, but only to such as were known In some of the

ministers or persons of trust, to be free of public scandals. All the regular

forms were gone through. The communicants entered at one end and

retired at the other, a way being kept clear to take their seats again on the

hill-side. Mr. Welsh preached the action sermon and served the two first

tables, as he was ordinarily put; to do so on such occasions. The other four

ministers, Mr. Blackader, Mr. Dickson, Mr. Riddell, and Mr. Rae, exhorted

the rest in their turn; the table service was closed by Mr. Welsh with

solemn thanksgiving, and solemn it was, and sweet and edifying to see the

gravity and composure of all present, as well as of all parts of the service.

The communion was peaceably concluded, all the people heartily offering

up their gratitude, and singing with a joyful voice to the Rock of their

salvation. It was pleasant as the night fell to hear their melody swelling in


full unison along the hill, the whole congregation joining with one accord,

and praising God with the voice of psalms.

“There were, two long tables and one short across the head, with seats on

each side. About a hundred sat at every table. There were sixteen tables in

all, so that about three thousand two hundred communicated that day.”

Perhaps the most remarkable place ever chosen for a discourse was the

center of the river Tweed, where Mr. John Welsh often preached during

hard frosts, in order that he might escape from the authorities of either

Scotland or England, whichever might interfere. Prize-fighters have often

selected the borders of two counties for their performances, but their

prudence would seem to have been anticipated by the children of light.

It is amusing also to read of Archbishop Sharp’s commanding the militia to

be sent to disperse the crowd who had gathered on the hill side to hear Mr.

Blackader, and of his being informed that they had all gone an hour before

to attend the sermon.

What; the world would have been if there had not been preaching outside

of walls, and beneath a more glorious roof than these rafters of fir, I am

sure, I cannot guess. It was a brave day for England when Whitefield began

field preaching. When Wesley stood and preached a sermon on his father’s

grave, at Epworth, because the parish priest would not allow him

admission within the (so-called) sacred edifice, Mr. Wesley writes: “I am

well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by

preaching three days on my father’s tomb than I did by preaching three

years in his pulpit.” The same might be said of all the open air preaching

which followed, as compared with the regular discourses within doors.

“The thought of preaching in the open air was suggested to Whitefield by a

crowd of a thousand people unable to gain admission to Bermondsey

church, where he preached one Sunday afternoon. He met with no

encouragement when he mentioned it to some of his friends; they thought

it was a’ mad notion.’ However, it would have been carried out the next

Sunday at Ironmongers’ Almshouses had not the preacher been

disappointed in his congregation, which was small enough to hear him from

the pulpit. He took two sermons with him, one for within and the other for

without.” The idea which had thus ripened into a resolve had not long to

wait before it was car-tied into execution. The Chancellor of the Diocese

having put impediments in the way of Whitefield’s preaching in the



of Bristol on behalf of his Orphan-house, he went to preach to the colliers

at Kingwood “for the first time on a Saturday afternoon, taking his stand

on Hannah Mount He spoke on Matt. v. 1, 2, 3, to as many as came to

hear; upwards of two hundred attended. His only remark in his journal is,

Blessed be God that the ice is now broke, and! have now taken the field!

Some may censure me. But is there not a cause? Pull)its are denied; and

the poor colliers ready to] perish for lack of knowledge.” Now he was the

owner of a pulpit that no mart could take from him, and his heart rejoiced

in this great gift. On the following day the journal relates, All the church

doors being now shut, and if open not able to contain half that came to

hear, at three in the afternoon I went to Kingswood among the colliers.

God highly favored us in sending us a fine day, and near two thousand

people were assembled on that occasion. I preached and enlarged on John

3:3 for near an hour, and, I hope, to the comfort and edification of those

that heard me.” Two days afterwards he stood upon the same spot, and

preached to a congregation of four or five thousand with great freedom.

The bright sun overhead, and the immense throng standing around him in

awful silence, formed a picture which filled him with’ holy admiration.’ On

a subsequent Sunday, Bassleton, a village two miles from Bristol, opened

its church to him, and a numerous congregation coming together, he first

read prayers in the church, and then preached in the churchyard. At four he

hastened to Kingswood. Though the month was February the weather was

unusually open and mild; the setting sun shone with its fullest power; the

trees and hedges were crowded with hearers who wanted to see the

preacher as well as to hear him. For an hour he spoke with a voice loud

enough to be heard by every one, and his heart was not without joy in his

own message. He writes in his journal: ‘ Blessed. be God. The fire is

kindled; may the gates of hell never be able to prevail against it! It is

important to know what were his feelings when he met those immense field

congregations, whose numbers had grow grown from two hundred to

twenty thousand, and what were the effects Of his preaching upon his

audience. His own words are, ‘Having no righteousness of their own to

renounce, the colliers were glad to hear of Jesus who was a friend to

publicans, and came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

The first discovery of their being affected was, to see the white gutters

made by their tears, which plentifully fell down their black cheeks, as they

came out of their coal pits. Hundreds and hundreds of them were soon

brought under deep convictions, which (as the event proved) happily ended

in a sound and thorough conversion. The change was visible to all, though


numbers chose to impute it to anything rather than the finger of God. As

the scene was quite new, and I had just began to be an extempore preacher,

it often occasioned many inward conflicts. Sometimes, when twenty

thousand people were before me, I had not, in my own apprehension, a

word to say, either to God or them. But I was never totally deserted, and

frequently knew by happy experience what our Lord meant when he said, ‘

Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ The open firmament

above me, the prospect of the adjacent fields, with the sight of thousands

and thousands, some in coaches, some on horseback, and some on the

trees, and, at times, all affected and drenched in tears together, to which

sometimes was added the solemnity of the approaching evening, was

almost too much for, and quite overcame, me.”

Wesley writes in his journal, “Saturday, 31 [March, 1731]. In the evening I

reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile

myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set

me an example on Sunday; having been all my life (till very’ lately) so

tenacious of ever}, point relating to decency and order, that I should have

thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if had it not been done in a

church.” Such were the feelings of a man who in after life became one of

the greatest open air preachers that ever lived!

I shall not tarry to describe Mr. Whitefield on our own Kennington

Common among the tens of thousands, or at Moorfields early in the

morning, when the lanterns twinkled like so many glowworms on a grassy

bank on a summer’s night, neither will I mention the multitudes of glorious

scenes with Wesley and his more renowned preachers; but a picture more

like that which some of you can easily copy has taken a strong hold upon

my memory; and I set it before you that you may never in times to come

despise the day of small things : —

“Wesley reached Newcastle on Friday, the 28th of May. On walking out,

after tea, he was surprised and shocked at the abounding wickedness.

Drunkenness and swearing seemed general, and even the months of little

children were full of curses. How he spent the Saturday we are not

informed; but, on Sunday morning at seven, he and John Taylor took their

stand near the pump, in Sandgate, ‘the poorest and most contemptible part

of the town,’ and began to sing the Old Hundredth Psalm and tune. Three

or four people came about them, to see what. was the matter; these soon

increased in number, and, before Wesley finished preaching, his


congregation consisted of from twelve to fifteen hundred persons. When

the service was ended, the people still stood gaping, with the most

profound astonishment, upon which Wesley said, ‘If you desire to know

who I am, my name is John Wesley. At five in the evening, with God’s

help, I design to preach here again.’”

Glorious were those great gatherings in fields and commons which lasted

throughout the long period in which Wesley and Whitefield blessed our

nation. Field-preaching was the wild note of the birds singing in the trees,

in testimony that the true springtime of religion had come. Birds in cages

may sing more sweetly, perhaps, but their music is not so natural, nor so

sure a pledge of the coming summer. It was a blessed day when Methodists

and others began t, proclaim Jesus in the open air; then were the gates of

hell shaken, and the captives of the devil set free by hundreds and by


Once recommenced, the fruitful agency of field-preaching was not allowed

to Cease. Amid jeering crowds and showers of rotten eggs and filth, the

immediate followers of the two great Methodists continued to storm

village after village and town after town. Very varied were their

adventures, but their success was generally great. One smiles often when

reading incidents in their labors. A string of packhorses is so driven as to

break up a congregation, and a fire-engine is brought out and played over

the throng to achieve the same purpose. Hand-bells, old kettles, marrowbones

and cleavers, ‘trumpets, drums, and entire bands of music were

engaged to drown the Preachers’ voices. In one case the parish bull was let

loose, and in others dogs were set to fight. The preachers needed to have

faces set like flints, and so indeed they had. John Furz says,: “As soon as I

began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my

face; swearing that he would blow my brains out, if I spake another word.

However, I continued speaking, and he continued swearing, sometimes

putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear.

While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and

burned off part of my hair.” After this, my brethren, We ought never to

speak of petty interruptions or annoyances. The proximity of a blunderbuss

in the hands of a son of Belial is not very conducive to collected thought

and clear utterance, but the experience of Furz was probably no worse than

that of John Nelson, who coolly says, “But when I was in the middle of my

discourse, one at the outside of the congregation threw a stone, which cut

me on the head: however, that made the people give -greater attention,


especially when they saw the blood run down my face; so that all was quiet

till I had done, and was Singing a hymn.”

The life of Gideon Ouseley, by Dr. Arthur, is one of the most powerful

testimonies to the value of outdoor preaching. In the early part of the

present century, from. 1800 to 1830, he was in full vigor, riding

throughout the whole of Ireland, preaching the gospel of Jesus in every

town. His pulpit was generally the back of his horse, and. he himself and

his coadjutors were known as the men with the Black caps, from their habit

of wearing skull caps. This cavalry ministry was in its time the cause of a

great revival in Ireland, and gave promise of really touching Erin’s deepseated

curse — the power of the priesthood, and the superstition of the

people. Ouseley showed at all times much shrewdness, and a touch of

common-sense humor; hence he generally preached in front of the

apothecary’s window because the mob would be the less liberal with their

stones, or next best he chose to have the residence of a respectable

Catholic in his rear, for the same reason. His sermon from the stone stairs

of the market house of Enniscorthy was a fair specimen of his dexterous

method of meeting an excited mob of Irishmen.. I will give it you at length,

that you may know how to act if ever you are placed in similar

circumstances: — ”He took his stand, put; off his hat, assumed his black

velvet cap, and, after a few moments spent in silent prayer, commenced to

sing. People began to gather round him, and, during the singing of a few

verses, were quiet, and apparently attentive, but soon began to be restless

and noisy. He then commenced to pray, and quietness for a short time

followed; but presently, as the crowd increased, it became uneasy, and.

even turbulent. He closed his prayer, and began to preach; but evidently his

audience were not disposed to hear him. Before many sentences had been

uttered, missiles began to fly — at first not of a very destructive character,

being refuse — vegetables, potatoes, turnips, etc.; but before long harder

materials were thrown — brickbats and stones, some of which reached him

and inflicted slight wounds. He stopped, and, after a pause, cried out,

‘Boys dear, what’s the matter with you to-day? Won’t you let an old man

talk to you a little?’ ‘We don’t want to hear a word out of your old head,’

was the prompt reply from one in the crowd. ‘But I ‘want; to tell you

what, I think, you would like to hear.’ ‘No, we’ll like nothing you can tell

us.’ ‘How do you know? I want to tell you a story about one you all say

you respect and love.’ ‘Who’s that,’ ‘The blessed Virgin.’ ‘Och, and what

do you know about the blessed Virgin?’ ‘More than you think; and I’m


sure you’ll be pleased with what I have to tell you, if you’ll only listen to

me.’ ‘ Come then,’ said another voice, ‘let us hear what he has to say about

the Holy Mother.’ And there was a lull, and the missionary began: ‘There

was once a young couple to be married, belonging to a little town called

Cana. It’s away in that country where our blessed Savior spent a great part

of his life among us; and the decent people whose children were to be

married thought it right to invite the blessed Virgin to the wedding feast,

and her blessed Son too, and some of his disciples; and they all thought it

right to come. As they sat at table, the Virgin Mother thought she saw that

tile wine provided for the entertainment began to run short, and she Was

troubled lest the decent young people should be shamed before their

neighbors; and so she whispered to her blessed Son, “They have no wine.”

“Don’t let that trouble you, ma’am,” said he. And in a minute or two after,

she, knowing well what was in his good heart, said to one of the servants

that was passing behind them, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

Accordingly, by-and-by,, our blessed Lord said to another of them — I

suppose they had passed the word among themselves. — ” Fill those large

water-pots with, water.” (There were six of them standing in a corner of

the room, and they held nearly three gallons apiece, for the people of those

countries use a great deal of water every day.) And, remembering the

words of the Holy Virgin, they did his bidding, and came back, and said,

“Sir, they are full to the brim.” “Take some, then, to the master, at the

head of the table,” he said. And they did so, and the master tasted it, and lo

and behold you! it was wine, and the best of wine too. And there was

plenty of it for the feast, ay, and, it may be, some left to help the young

couple setting up house-keeping. And all that, you see, came of the

servants taking the advice of the blessed Virgin, and doing what she bid

them. Now, if she was here among us this day, she would give just the

same advice to every one of us, “Whatsoever he saith to you, do it,” and

with good reason too, for well she knows there is nothing but love in his

heart to us, and nothing but wisdom comes from his lips. And now I’ll tell

you some of the things he says to us. He says, “Strive to enter in at the

strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will strive to enter in, and shall not be

able.”’ And straightway the preacher briefly, but clearly and forcibly, expounded

the nature of the gate of life, its straitness, and the dread necessity

for pressing into it, winding up with the Virgin’s counsel, ‘ Whatsoever he

saith unto you, do it.’ In like manner he explained, and pressed upon his

hearers, some other of the weighty words of our divine Lord, — ’ Except a

man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of


God’; and, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take

up his cross daily and follow me,’ — enforcing his exhortation in each

instance by the Virgin’s counsel to the servants at Calla. ‘ But no,’ at last

he broke forth ‘no:; with all the love and reverence you pretend for the

blessed Virgin, you won’t take her advice, but will listen willingly to any

drunken schoolmaster that will wheedle you into a public-house, and put

mischief and wickedness into your heads.’ Here he was interrupted by a

voice, which seemed to be that of an old man, exclaiming, ‘True for you,

true for ye. If you were tellin’ lies all the days of your life, it’s the truth

you’re tellin’ now.’ And so the preacher got leave to finish his discourse

with not a little of good effect.”

The history of Primitive Methodism might here be incorporated bodily as

part of our sketch of Field-preaching, for that wonderful mission

movement owed its rise and progress to this agency. It is, however, a

singular reproduction of the events which attended the earlier Methodism

of eighty or ninety years before. The Wesleyans had become respectable,

and it was time that the old fire should burn up among another class of

men. Had Wesley been alive he would have gloried in the poor but brave

preachers who risked their lives to proclaim the message of eternal love

among the depraved, and he would have headed them in their crusade. As

it Was, other leaders came forward, and it was not long before their zeal

called forth a host of fervent witnesses who could not be daunted by mobs,

or squires, or clergymen; nor even chilled by the genteel brethren whose

proprieties they so dreadfully shocked. Then came forth the old weapons in

abundance. Agricultural produce in all stages of decomposition rewarded

the zealous apostles — turnips and potatoes were a first course, and. rotten

eggs followed in special abundance, these last we note were frequently

goose eggs, selected we suppose for their size. A tub of coal-tar was Often

in readiness, filth from the horse-ponds was added, and all this to the music

of tin whistles, horns, and watch-mens’ rattles. Barrels of ale were

provided by the advocates of “Church and king” to refresh the orthodox

assailants, while both preachers and disciples were treated with brutality

such as to excite compassion even in the hearts of adversaries. All this was,

happily, a violation of law, but the great unpaid winked at the

transgressors, and endeavored to bully the preacher into silence. For

Christ’s sake they were content to be treated as vagrants and vagabonds:,

and the Lord put great honor upon them. Disciples were made and the

Ranters multiplied. Even till a late period these devoted brethren have been


opposed with violence, but their joyful experience has led them to

persevere in their singing through the streets, cam?-meetings, and other

irregularities: blessed irregularities by which hundreds of wanderers have

been met with and led to the fold of Jesus.

I have no time further to illustrate my subject by descriptions of the work

of Christmas Evans and others in Wales, or of the Haldanes in Scotland, or

even of Rowland Hill and his brethren in England.. If you wish to pursue

the subject these names may serve as hints for discovering abundant

materials; and I may add to the list “The Life of Dr. Guthrie,” in which he

records notable open-air assemblies at the time of the Disruption, when as

yet the Free Church had no places of worship built with human hands.

I must linger a moment over Robert Flockhart of Edinburgh, who, though

a lesser light, was a constant one, and a fit example to the bulk of Christ’s

street witnesses. Every evening, in all weathers and amid many

persecutions, did this brave man continue to speak in the [street for fortythree

years. Think of that, and never be discouraged. When he was

tottering to the grave the old soldier was still at his post. “Compassion to

the souls of men drove me,”’ said he, “to the streets and lanes of my native

city, to plead with sinners and persuade them to come to Jesus. The love of

Christ constrained me.” Neither the hostility of the police, nor the insults

of Papists, Unitarians, and the like could move him, he rebuked error in the

plainest terms, and preached salvation by ;grace with all his! might. So

lately has he passed away that Edinburgh remembers him still. There is

room for such in all our cities and towns, grid need for hundreds of his

noble order in this huge nation of London — can I call it less?

In America men like Peter Cartwright, Lorenzo Dow, Jacob Gruber, and

others of a past generation, carried on a glorious warfare under the open

heavens in their own original fashion; and in later times Father Taylor has

given us another proof of the immeasurable power of this mode of crusade

in his “Seven Years of Street Preaching in San Francisco, California.”

Though sorely tempted I shall forbear at this time from making extracts

from that very remarkable work.

The camp-meeting is a sort of associated field-preaching, and has become

an institution in the United States, where everything must needs be done

upon a great scale. This would lead me into another subject, and therefore

I shall merely give you a glimpse at that means of Usefulness, and then



The following description of the earlier camp meetings in America from

the pen of the author of a “Narrative of a Mission to Nova Scotia”: — ”

The tents are generally pitched in the fore of a Crescent, in the center of

which is an elevated stand for the preachers, round which, in all directions,

are placed rows. of planks for the people to sit upon while they hear the

word. Among the trees, which spread their tops over this forest church, are

hung the lamps, which burn all night, and give light to the various exercises

of religion, which occupy the solemn midnight hours. It was nearly eleven

o’clock at night when I first arrived on the border Of the camp. I left my

boat at the edge of the wood, one mile from the scene; and when I opened

upon the camp. ground, .my curiosity was converted into astonishment, to

behold the pendant lamps among the trees; the tents half-encircling a large

space; four thousand people in the center of this, listening with profound

attention to the preacher, whose stentorian voice and animated manner

carried the vibration of each word to a great distance through the deeply

umbrageous wood, where, save the twinkling lamps of the camp, brooding

darkness spread a tenfold gloom..A.11 excited my astonishment, and

forcibly brought before my view the Hebrews in the wilderness. The

meetings generally begin on Monday morning, and on Friday morning

following break up. The daily exercises are carried forward in the following

manner: in the morning at five o’clock the horn sounds through the camp,

either for preaching or for prayer; this, with similar exercises, or a little

intermission, brings on the breakfast hour, eight o’clock; at ten, the horn

sounds for public preaching, after which, until noon, the interval is filled up

with little groups of praying persons, who seated themselves up and down

the camp, both in the teats and under the trees. After dinner the horn

sounds at two o’clock; this is for preaching. I should have observed that a

female or two is generally left in each tent, to prepare materials for dinner.

A fire is kept burning in different parts of the camp, where water is boiled

for tea, the use of ardent spirits being forbidden. After the afternoon

preaching things take nearly the same course as in the morning, only the

praying groups are upon a larger scale, and more scope is given to

animated exhortations and loud prayers. Some who exercise on these

occasions soon lose their voices, and, at the end of a camp meeting, manly

of both preachers and people can only speak in a whisper. At six o’clock in

the evening the horn summons to preaching, after which, though in no

regulated form, all the above means continue until evening; yea, and during

whatever part of the night you awake, the wilderness is vocal with praise.”


Whether or not under discreet management some such gatherings could be

held in our country I cannot decide, but it does strike me as Worthy of

consideration whether in some spacious grounds services might not be held

in summer weather, say for a week at; a time, by ministers who would

follow each other in proclaiming the gospel beneath the trees. Sermons and

prayer-meetings, addresses and hymns, might follow each other in wise

succession, and perhaps thousands might be induced to gather to worship

God, among whom would be scores and hundreds who never enter our

regular sanctuaries. Not only must something be done to evangelize the

millions, but everything must be done, and perhaps amid variety of effort

the best thing would be discovered. “If by any means I may save some”

must be our motto, and this must urge us onward to go forth into the

highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Brethren, I speak as

unto wise men, consider what I say.




I FEAR that in some of our less enlightened country churches there are

conservative individuals who almost believe that to preach anywhere

except in the chapel would be a shocking innovation, a sure token of

heretical tendencies, and a mark of zeal without knowledge.. Any young

brother who studies his comfort among them must not suggest anything so

irregular as a sermon outside the walls of their Zion. In the olden times we

are told” Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, she

crieth in the chief places of concourse, in the openings of the gates”; but t

h¢ wise men of orthodoxy would have wisdom gagged except beneath the

roof of a licensed building. These people believe in a New Testament

which says, “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to

come in,” and yet they dislike a literal obedience to the command. Do they

imagine that a special blessing results from sitting upon a particular deal

board with a piece of straight-up panelling at their back — an invention of

discomfort which ought long ago to have made people prefer to worship

outside on the green grass? Do they suppose that grace rebounds from

sounding-boards, or can be beaten out of pulpit cushions in the same

fashion as the dust? Are they enamored of the bad air, and the stifling

stuffiness which in some of our meeting-houses make them almost as

loathsome to the nose and to tire lungs as the mass-houses of Papists with

their cheap and nasty incense? ‘To reply to these objectors is a task for

which we have no heart: we prefer foremen worthy of the steel we use

upon them, but these are scarcely worth a passing remark.. One smiles at

their prejudice, but we may yet have to weep over it, if it be allowed to

stand in the way of usefulness.

No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need

very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has

never preached beyond the walls of his meeting house. A defense is

required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of

them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and

stone into the skies when there is so much need for preaching rooms


among poor sinners down below. Defence is greatly needed for forests of

stone pillars, which prevent the preacher’s being seen and his voice from

being heard; for high-pitched Gothic roofs in which all sound is lost, and

men are killed by being compelled to shout till they burst their

bloodvessels; and also for the willful creation of echoes by exposing hard,

sound-refracting surfaces to satisfy the demands of art, to the total

overlooking of the comfort of both audience and speaker. Surely; also

some, decent excuse is badly wanted for those childish people who must

needs waste money in placing hobgoblins and monsters on the outside of

their preaching houses, and must have[ other ridiculous pieces of Popery

stuck up both inside and outside, to deface rather than to adorn their

churches and chapels: but no defense whatever is wanted for using the

heavenly. Father s vast audience chamber, which is in every way so well

fitted for the proclamation of a gospel so free, so full, so expansive, so

sublime. The usual holding of religious assemblies under cover may be

excused in England, because our climate is so execrably bad; but it were

well to cease from such use when the weather is fine and fixed, and space

and quiet can be obtained. We are not like the people of Palestine, who can

foresee their weather, and are not every hour in danger of a shower; but if

we meet sub Jove, as the Latin’s say, we must expect the Jove of the hour

to be Jupiter pluvius. We can always have a deluge if we do not wish for

it, but if we fix a service out of doors for next Sunday morning, we have no

guarantee that we shall not all be drenched to the skin. It is true that some

notable sermons have been preached in the rain, bat as a general rule the

ardor of our auditors is hardly so great as to endure much damping.

Besides, the cold of our winters is too intense for services out of doors all

the year round, though in Scotland I have heard of sermons amid the sleet,

and John Nelson writes of speaking to “a crowd too large to get into the

house, though it was dark and snowed.” Such things may be done now and

then, but exceptions only prove the rule. It is fair also to admit that when

people will come within walls, if the house be so commodious that a man

could not readily make more persons hear, and if it be always full, there

can be no need to go out of doors to preach to fewer than there would be

indoors; for, all things considered, a comfortable seat screened from the

weather, and shut in from noise and intrusion, is helpful to a man’s hearing

the gospel with solemnity and quiet thought. A well ventilated, well

managed building is an advantage if the crowds can be accommodated and

can be induced to come; but these conditions are very rarely met, and

therefore my voice is for the fields.


The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many new

comers to hear the gospel who otherwise would never hear it. The gospel

command is, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every

creature,” but it is so little obeyed that one would imagine that it ran thus,

“Go into your own place of worship and preach the gospel to the few

creatures who will come inside.” “Go ye into the highways and hedges and

compel them to come in,” — albeit it constitutes part of a parable, is

worthy to be taken very literally, and in so doing its meaning will be best

carried out. We ought actually to go into the streets and lanes and

highways, for there are lurkers in the hedges, tramps on the highway,

street-walkers, and lane-haunters, whom we shall never reach unless we

pursue them into their own domains. Sportsmen must not stop at home and

wait for the birds to come and be shot at, neither must fishermen throw

their nets inside their boats and hope to take many fist,, Traders go to the

markets, they follow their customers and go out after business if it will not

come to them; and so must we. Some of our brethren are prosing on and

on, to empty pews and musty hassocks, while they might be conferring

lasting benefit upon hundreds by quitting the old walls for awhile, and

seeking living stones for Jesus. Let them come out of Reho-both and find

room at the street corner, let them leave Salem and seek the peace of

neglected souls, let them dream no longer at Bethel, but make an open

space to be none other than the house of God, let them come down from

Mount Zion, and up from AEnon, and even away from Trinity, and St.

Agnes, and St. Michael-and-All. Angels, and St. Margaret-Pattens, and St.

Ve-dast, and St. Ethelburga, and all the rest of them, and try to find new

saints among the sinners who are perishing for lack of knowledge.

I have known street preaching in London remarkably blest to persons

whose character and condition would quite preclude their having been

found in a place of worship. I know, for instance, a Jewish friend who, on

coming from Poland, understood nothing whatever of the English

language. In going about the streets on the Sunday he noticed the

numerous groups listening to earnest speakers. He had never seen such a

thing in his own country, where the Russian police would be alarmed if

groups were .seen in. Conversation, and he was therefore all the more

interested. As he acquired a little English he became more and more

constant in his attendance upon street speakers, indeed, it was very much

with the view of learning the language that he listened at the first. I am

afraid that the English which he acquired ‘was not of the very best, which


judgment I form as much from what I have herald of open air oratory as

from having listened to our Jewish friend himself, whose theology is better

than his English. However, that “Israelite indeed” has always reason to

commend the street preachers. How many other strangers and foreigners

may, by the same instrumentality, have become fellow-Citizens with the

saints and of the household of God we cannot tell. Romanists also are met

with in this manner more frequently! than some would suppose, It is

seldom prudent to publish cases of conversion among Papists, but my own

observation leads me to believe that they are far more common than they;

were ten years ago, and the gracious work is frequently commenced by

what is heard of the gospel at our street corners. Infidels, also, are

constantly yielding to the word of the Lord thus brought home to them.

The street evangelist, moreover, wins attention from those eccentric people

whose religion can neither be described nor imagined. Such people hate the

very sight of our churches and meeting houses, but will stand in a crowd to

hear what is said, and are often most impressed when they affect the

greatest contempt.

Besides, there are numbers of persons in great cities who have not fit

clothes to worship in, according to the current idea of what clothes ought

to be; and not a few whose persons as well as their garments are so filthy,

so odorous, so unapproachable, that the greatest philanthropist and the

most leveling democrat might desire to have a little space between himself

and their lively individualities.. There are others who, whatever raiment

they wear, would not go into a chapel upon any consideration, for they

consider it to be a sort of punishment to attend divine service. Possibly

they remember the dull Sundays of their childhood and the dreary’ sermons

they have heard when ‘for a few times they have entered a church, but it is

certain that they look upon persons who attend places of worship as

getting off the punishment they ought to endure in the next world by

suffering it in this world instead. The Sunday newspaper, the pipe, and the

pot, have more charms for them than all the preachments of bishops and

parsons, whether of church or dissent. The open-air evangelist frequently

picks up these members of the “No church” party, and in so doing he often

finds some of the richest gems that will at last adorn the Redeemer’s

crown: jewels, which, by reason of their roughness, are apt to be unnoticed

by a more fastidious class of soul-winners. Jonah in the streets of Nineveh

was heard by multitudes who would never have known of his existence if

he had hired a hall; john the Baptist by the Jordan awakened an interest


which would never have been aroused had he kept to the synagogue; and

those who went from city to city proclaiming everywhere the word of the

Lord Jesus would never have turned the world upside down if they had felt

it needful to confine themselves to iron rooms adorned with the orthodox

announcement, “The gospel of the grace of God will (D.V.) be preached

here next Lord’s day evening.”

I am quite sure, too, that, if we could persuade our friends in the country

to come out a good many times in the year and hold a service in a meadow,

or in a shady grove, or on the hill side, or in a garden, or on a common, it

would be all the better for the usual hearers.. The mere novelty of the

place would freshen their interest, and wake them up. The slight change of

scene would have a wonderful effect upon the more somnolent. See how

mechanically they move into their usual place of worship, and how

mechanically they go out again. They’ fall into their seats as if at last they

had found a resting place; they rise to sing with an amazing effort, and they

drop down before you have time for a doxology’ at the close of the hymn

because they did not notice it was coming, What logs some regular hearers

are! Many of them are asleep with their eyes open. After sitting a certain

number of years in the same old spot, where the pews, pulpit, galleries, and

all things else are always the same, except that they get a little dirtier and

dingier every week, where everybody occupies the same position for ever

and for evermore, and the minister’s. face, voice, tone are much the same

from January to December,. — you get to feel the holy quiet of the scene

and listen to what is going on as though it were addressed to “the dull cold

ear of death.” As a miller hears his wheels as though he did not hear them,

or a stoker scarcely notices the clatter of his engine after enduring it for a

little time; or as a dweller in London never notices the ceaseless grind of

the traffic; so do many members of our congregations become insensible to

the most earnest addresses, and accept them as a matter of course. The

preaching and the rest of it. get to be so usual that they might as well not

be at all. Hence a change of place might be useful, it might prevent

monotony, shake up indifference, suggest thought, and in a thousand ways

promote attention, and give new hope of doing good. A great fire which

should burn some of our chapels to the ground might not be the greatest

calamity which has ever occurred, if it only aroused some of those rivals of

the seven sleepers of Ephesus who will never be moved so long as the old

house and the old pews hold together. Besides, the fresh air and plenty of it

is a grand thing for every mortal man, woman, and child. I preached in


Scotland twice on a Sabbath day at Blairmore, on a little height by the side

of the sea, and after discoursing with all my might to large congregations,

to be counted by thousands, I did not feel one-half so much exhausted as I

often am when addressing a few hundreds in some horrible black hole of

Calcutta, called a chapel. I trace my freshness and freedom from lassitude

at Blairmore to the fact that the windows could not be shut down by

persons afraid of heights, and that the roof was as high as the heavens are

above the earth. My conviction is that a man could preach three or four

times on a Sabbath out of doors with less fatigue than would be occasioned

by one discourse delivered in an impure atmosphere, heated and poisoned

by human breath, and carefully preserved from every refreshing infusion of

natural air.

Tents are had — unutterably bad: far worse than. the worst buildings. I

think a tent is the most objectionable covering for a preaching place that

was ever invented. I am glad to see tents used in London, for the very

worst place is better than none, and because they can easily be moved from

place to place, and are not very expensive; but still, if I had my choice

between having nothing at all and having a tent, I should prefer the open

air by far. Under canvas the voice is deadened and the labor of speaking

greatly increased. The material acts as a wet blanket to the voice, kills its

resonance, and prevents its traveling. With fearful exertion, in the

sweltering air generated in a tent, you will be more likely to be killed than

to be heard. You must have noticed even at our own College gatherings,

when we number only some two hundred, how difficult it is to hear at the

end of a tent, even when the sides are open, and the air is pure. Perhaps

you may on that occasion attribute this fact in some degree to a want of

attentiveness and quietness on the part of that somewhat jubilant

congregation, but still even when prayer is offered, and all is hushed, I have

observed a great want of traveling power in the best voice beneath a


If you are going to preach in the open air in the country, you will perhaps

have your choice of a spot wherein to preach; if not, of course you must

have what you can get, and you must in faith accept it as the very best.

Hobson’s choice of that or none makes the matter simple, and saves a deal

of debate. Do not be very squeamish. If there should happen to be an

available meadow hard by your chapel, select it because it will be very

convenient to turn into the meeting-house should the weather prove

unsuitable, or if you wish to hold a prayer-meeting or an after-meeting at


the close of your address. It is well to preach before your regular services

on a spot near your place of worship, so as to march the crowd right into

the building before they know what they are about. Half-an-hour’s out-ofdoor

speaking and singing before your ordinary hour of assembly will often

fill an empty house. -At the same time, do not always adhere to near and

handy spots, but choose a locality for the very opposite reason, because it

is fat’ away from any place of worship and altogether neglected. Hang up

the lamps wherever there is a dark corner; the darker the more need of

light. Paradise Row and Pleasant Place are generally the least paradisaical

and the most unpleasant: thither let your steps be turned. Let the dwellers

in the valley of the shadow of death perceive that light has sprung up for


I have somewhere met with the recommendation always to preach with a

wall behind you, but against that I respectfully enter my cavcar. Have a

care of what may be on the other side of the wall! One evangelist received

a can of scalding water from over a wall with the kindly remark, ,’ There’s

soup for Protestants!” and another was favored with most unsavory

bespatterings from a vessel emptied from above, Gideon Ouseley began to

preach in Roscoramon with his back against the gable of a tobacco factory

in which there was a window with a wooden door, through which goods

were hoisted into the loft. Would you be surprised to learn that the window

suddenly opened, and that from it descended a pailful of tobacco water, an

acrid fluid most painful to the eyes? The preacher in after years knew better

than to put himself in such a tempting position. Let his experience instruct


If I had my choice of a pitch for preaching, I should prefer to front a rising

ground, or an open spot bounded at some little distance by a wall. Of

course there must be sufficient-space to allow of the congregation

assembling between the pulpit and the bounding Object in front, but I like

to see an end, and not to shout into boundless space. I do not know a

prettier site for a sermon than that which I occupied in my friend Mr.

Duncan’s grounds at Bennote. It was a level sweep of lawn, backed by

rising terraces covered with fir-trees. The people could either occupy the

seats below, or drop down upon the grassy banks, as best comported with

their .comfort, and thus I had part of my congregation in rising galleries

above me, and the rest in the area around me. My voice readily ascended,

and I conceive that if the people had been seated up the hill for half-a-mile

they would have been able to hear me with ease. I should suppose that


Wesley’s favorite spot at Gwennap Pit must be somewhat after the same

order. Amphitheaters and hillsides are always favorite spots with preachers

in the fields, and their advantages will be at once evident to you.

My friend Mr. Abraham once produced for me a grand cathedral in

Oxfordshire. The remains of it are still called Spurgeon’s Tabernacle,”

and may be seen near Minster Lovell, in the form of a quadrilateral of oaks.

Originally it was the beau ideal of a preaching place, for it was a cleared

spot in the thick forest of Witchwood, and was reached by roads cut

through the dense underwood. I shall never forget those “alleys green,”

and the verdant walls which shut them in. When you reached the inner

temple it consisted of a large square, out of which the underwood and

smaller trees had been cut away, while a sufficient number of young oaks

had been left to rise to a considerable height, and then overshadow us with

their branches. Here was a truly magnificent cathedral, with pillars and

arches: a temple not made with hands:, of Which we might truly say,

“Father, thy hand

Hath reared these venerable columns, thou

Didst weave this verdant roof.”

I have never, either at home or on the Continent, seen architecture which

could rival my cathedral. “Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in

the fields of the wood.” The blue sky was visible through our clarestory,

and from the great window at the further end the sun smiled upon us

toward evening. Oh, sirs, it was; grand indeed, to worship thus beneath the

vaulted firmament, beyond the sound of city hum, where all around

ministered to quiet fellowship with God. That spot is now cleared, and the

place of our assembly has been selected at a little distance from it.. It is of

much the same character, only that my boundary walls of’ forest growth

have disappeared to give place to an open expanse of ploughed fields. Only

the pillars and the roof of my temple remain, but I am still glad, like the

Druids, to worship among the oak trees. This year a clove had built her

nest just above my head, and she continued flying to and fro to feed her

young, while the sermon proceeded. Why not? Where should she be more

at home than where the Lord of love and Prince of Peace was adored? It is

true my arched cathedral is not waterproof, and other showers besides

those of grace will descend upon the congregation, but this has its

advantages, for it makes us the more grateful When the day is propitious,


and the very precariousness of the weather excites a large amount of

earnest prayer.

I once preached a sermon in the open air in haying time during a violent

storm of rain. The text was, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown

grass, as showers that water the earth,” and surely we had the blessing as

well as the inconvenience. I was sufficiently wet, and my congregation

must have been drenched, but they stood it out, and I never heard that

anybody was the worse in health, though, I thank God, I have heard of

souls brought to Jesus under that discourse. Once in a while, and under

strong excitement, such things do no one any harm, but we are not to

expect miracles, nor wantonly venture upon a course of procedure which

might kill the sickly and lay the foundations of disease in the strong.

I remember well preaching between Cheddar’ Cliffs. What a noble position

What beauty and sublimity! But there was great danger from falling pieces

of stone, moved by the people who sat upon the higher portions of the

cliff, and hence I would not choose the spot again. We must studiously

avoid positions where serious accident might [be possible. An injured head

qualifies no one for enjoying the beauties of nature, or the consolations of

grace. Concluding a discourse in that place, I called upon those mighty

rocks to bear witness that I had preached the gospel to the people, and to

be a testimony against them at the last great day, if they rejected the

message. Only the other day I heard of a person to whom that appeal was

made useful by the Holy Spirit.

Look: well tot he ground you select, that it is not swampy. I never like to

see a man slip up to his knees in mire while I am preaching. Rushy places

are often so smooth and green that we select them without noting that they

are apt to be muddy, and to give our hearers wet feet. Always

inconvenience yourself rather than your audience: your Master would have

done so. Even in the streets of London a concern for the convenience of

your hearers is one of the things which conciliates a crowd more than


Avoid as your worst enemy the neighborhood of the Normandy poplar.

These trees cause a perpetual hissing and rustling sound, almost like the

noise of the sea. Every leaf of certain kinds of poplar is in perpetual

motion, like the tongue of Talkative. The noise may not seem very loud,

but it will drown the best of voices. “The sound of a going in the tops of

the mulberry trees” is all very well, but keep clear of the noise of poplars


and some other trees, or you will suffer for it. I have had painful experience

of this misery. The old serpent himself seemed to hiss at me out of those

unquiet boughs.

Practiced preachers do not care to have the sun directly in their faces if

they can help it, neither do they wish their hearers to be distressed in like

manner, and therefore they take this item into consideration When

arranging for a service. In London we do not see that luminary often

enough to be much concerned upon this point.

Do not try to preach against the wind, for it is an idle attempt. You may

hurl your voice a short distance by an amazing effort, but you cannot be

well heard even by the few. I do not often advise you to consider which

way the wind blows, but on this occasion I urge you to do it, or you will

labor in vain. Preach so that the wind carries your voice towards the

people, and does not blow it down your throat, or you will have to eat

your own words. There is no telling how far a man may be heard with the

wind. In certain atmospheres and climates, as for instance in that of

Palestine, persons might be heard for several miles; and single sentences of

well-known speech may in England be recognized a long way off, but I

should gravely doubt a man if he asserted that he understood a new

sentence beyond the distance of a mile. Whitfield is reported to have been

heard a mile, and I have been myself assured that I was heard for that

distance, but I am somewhat skeptical. F2 Half-a-mile is surely enough,

even with the wind, but you must make sure of that to be heard at all. In

the country it ought to be easy to find a fit place for preaching. One of the

earliest things that a minister should do when he leaves College and settles

in a country town or village is to begin open air speaking. He will generally

have no difficulty as to the position; the land is before him and he may

choose according to his own sweet will. The market-cross will be a good

beginning, then the head of a court crowded with the poor, and next the

favorite corner of the idlers of the parish. Cheap-Jack’s stand will make a

capital pulpit on Sunday night during the village fair, and a wagon will

serve well on the green, or in a field at a little distance, during! the weekday

evenings of the rustic festival. A capital place for an al fresco discourse

is the green where the old elm trees, felled long ago, are still lying in

reserve as if they were meant to be seats for your congregation; so also is

the burial ground of the meeting-house where “the rude forefathers of the

hamlet sleep.” Consecrate it to the living and let the people enjoy


“Meditations among the Tombs.” Maim no excuses, then, but get to work

at once.

In London, or any other large town, it; is a great thing to find a vacant spot

where you can obtain a right to hold services at your pleasure,. If you can

discover a piece of ground which is not yet built over, and if you can obtain

the use of it from the owner till he covers it, it will be a great acquisition,

and worth a slight expense in fencing; for you are then king of the castle

and disturbers will be trespassers. I suppose that such a spot is not often

obtainable, especially by persons who have no money; but it is worth

thinking about. It is a great gain when your place of worship has even a

small outside space, like that at Surrey Chapel, or upon the Tabernacle

steps; for here you are beyond the interference of the police or drunken

men. If we have none of these, we must find street corners, triangles, quiet

nooks, and wide spaces wherein to proclaim the gospel. Years ago I

preached to enormous assemblies in King Edward’s Road, Hackney, which

was then open fields, but now not a spare yard remains. On those

occasions the rush was perilous to life and limb, and there seemed no limit

to the throngs. Half the number would have been safer. That open space

has vanished, and it is the same with fields at Brixton, ‘where in years gone

by it was delightful to see the assembled crowds listening to the word.

Burdened with the rare trouble of drawing too many together, I have been

compelled to

abstain from these exercises in London, but not from any lessened sense of

their importance. With the Tabernacle always full I have as large a

congregation as I desire at home, and therefore do not preach outside

except in the country; but for those ministers whose area under cover is

but small, and whose congregations are thin, the open air is the remedy

whether in London or in the provinces.

In raising a new interest, and in mission operations, out of door services

are a main agency. Get the people to listen outside that they may by-andby

worship inside. You want no pulpit, a chair wilt do, or the kerb of the

road. The less formality the better, and if you begin by merely talking to

the two or three around you and make no pretense of sermonizing you will

do well. More good may be done by personal talk to one than by a

rhetorical address to fifty. Do not purposely interfere with the

thoroughfare, but if the crowd should accumulate do not hasten away in

sheer fright: the policeman will let you know soon enough. You are most


wanted, however, where you will be in no danger of impeding passers-by,

but. far more likely to be in danger yourself — I refer to those central

courts and blind alleys in our great cities which lie out of the route of

decency, and are known to nobody but the police, and to them principally

through bruises and wounds. Talk of discovering t[m interior of Africa, we

need explorers for Frying-pan Alley and Emerald-Island Court: the Arctic

regions are well nigh as accessible as Dobiuson’s Rents and Jack Ketch’s

Warren. Heroes of’ the cross — here is a field for you more glorious than

the Cid ever beheld/when with his brave right arm he smote the Paynim

hosts. Who will bring me into the strong city. Who will lead me into

Edom?” Who will enable us to win these slums and dens for Jesus?! Who

can do it but the Lord? Soldiers of Christ who venture into these regions

must expect a revival of the practices of the good old times, so far as

brickbats are concerned, and I have known a flower-pot fall accidentally

front an upper window in a remarkably slanting direction. Still, if we are

born to bedrowned we shall not be — killed by flower-pots. Under such

treatment it may be refreshing to read what Christopher Hopper wrote

under similar conditions more than a hundred years ago. “l did not much

regard a little dirt, a few rotten eggs, the sound of a cow’s horn, the noise

of bells, or a few snowballs in their season; but sometimes I was saluted

with blows, stones, brickbats, and bludgeons. These I did not well like:

they were not pleasing to flesh and blood. I sometimes lost a little skin, and

once a little blood, which was drawn from my forehead with a sharp stone.

I wore a patch for a few days, and was not ashamed; I gloried in the cross.

And when my small sufferings abounded for the sake of Christ, my comfort

abounded much more. I never was more happy in my own soul, or blessed

in my labors.”

I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being

locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good

also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the gospel marched off by the

servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is

sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are

eager to hear him when he is ordered to leave off, and still more so when

he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets

into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition

excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.

I am persuaded that the more of open air preaching there is in London the

better. If it should become a nuisance to some it will be a blessing to


others, if properly conducted. If it be the gospel which is spoken, and if the

spirit of the preacher be one of love and truth, the results cannot be

doubted: the bread east upon the waters must be found again after many

days. The gospel must, however, be preached in a manner worth the

hearing, for mere noise-making is an evil rather than a benefit. I know a

family almost driven out of their senses by the hideous shouting of

monotonous exhortations, and the howling of “Safe in the arms of Jesus”

neat’ their door every Sabbath afternoon by the year together. They are

zealous Christians, and would willingly help their tormentors if’ they saw

the slightest probability of usefulness from the violent bawling: but as they

seldom see a hearer, and do not think that what is spoken would do any

good if it were heard, they complain that they are compelled to lose their

few hours of quiet because two good men think it their duty to perform a

noisy but perfectly useless service. I once saw a man preaching with no

hearer but a dog, which sat upon its tail and looked up very reverently

while its master orated. There were no people at the windows nor passing

by, but the brother and his dog were at their post whether the people

would hear or whether they would forbear. Once also I passed an earnest

declaimer, whose hat was on the]ground before him, filled with papers, and

there was not even a dog for an audience, nor any one within hearing, yet

did he “waste his sweetness on the desert air.” I hope it relieved Ms own

mind. Really it must be viewed as an essential part of a sermon that

somebody should hear it: it cannot be a great benefit to the world to have

sermons preached in vacuo.

As to style in preaching out of doors, it should certainly be very different

from much of that which prevails within, and perhaps if a speaker were to

acquire a style fully adapted to a street audience, he would be wise to bring

it indoors with him. A great deal of sermonizing may be defined as saying

nothing at extreme length; but. out of doors verbosity is not admired, you

must say something and have done with it anti go on to say something

more, or your hearers Will let you know. “Now then,” cries a street critic,

“let us have it, old fellow.” Or else the observation is made, “Now then,

pitch it out I you’d better go home and learn your lesson.” “Cut it short,

old boy,” is a very common admonition, and I wish the presenters of this

advice gratis could let it be heard inside Ebenezer and Zoar and some other

places sacred to long-winded Orations. Where these outspoken criticisms

are not employed, the hearers rebuke prosiness by quietly walking away.

Very unpleasant this, to find your congregation dispersing, but a very’


plain intimation that your ideas are also much dispersed. In the street, [a

man must keep himself alive, and use many illustrations and anecdotes, and

sprinkle a quaint remark here and there. To dwell long on a point will

never do. Reasoning must be brief, clear, and soon done with. The

discourse must not be labored or involved, neither must the second head

depend upon the first, for the audience is a changing one, and each point

must be complete in itself. The chain of thought must be taken to pieces,

and each link melted down and turned into bullets: you will need not so

much Saladin’s saber to cut through a muslin handkerchief as Coeur de

Lion’s battle-ax to break a bar of iron. Come to the point at once, and

come there with all your might.

Short sentences of words and short passages of thought are needed for out

of doors. Long paragraphs and long arguments had better ‘be reserved for

other occasions. In quiet country crowds there is much force in an eloquent

silence, now and then interjected; it gives people time to breathe, and also

to reflect. Do not, however, attempt this in a London street; you must go

ahead, or someone else may run off with your congregation. In a regular

field sermon pauses are very effective, and are useful in several ways, both

to speaker and listeners, but to a passing company who are not inclined for

anything like worship, quick, short, sharp address is most adapted.

In the streets a man must from beginning to end be intense, and for that

very reason he must be condensed and concentrated in his thought and

utterance. It would never do to begin by saying, “My text, dear friends, is a

passage from the inspired word, con-raining doctrines of the utmost

importance, and bringing before us in the clearest manner the most valuable

practical instruction. I invite your careful attention and the exercise of your

most candid judgment while we consider it under various aspects and place

it. in different lights, in order that we may be able to perceive its position in

the analogy of the faith. In its exegesis we shall find an arena for the

cultured intellect, and the refined sensibilities. As the purling brook

meanders among the meads and fertilizes the pastures, so a stream of

sacred truth flows through the remarkable words which now lie before us.

It will be well for us to divert. the crystal current to the reservoir of our

meditation, that we may quaff the cup of wisdom with the lips of

satisfaction.” There, gentleman, is not that rather above the average of

word-spinning:, and is not the art very generally in vogue in these days? If

you go out to the obelisk in Blackfriars Road, and talk in that fashion, .you

will be saluted with “Go on, old buffer,” or “Ain’t he fine? MY EYE!” A


very vulgar youth will cry, “What a mouth for a rarer!” and another will

shout in a tone of mock solemnity, “AMEN!” If you give them chaff they

will cheerfully return it into your own bosom. Good measure, pressed

down and running over will they mete out to you. Shams and shows will

have no mercy from a street gathering. But have something to say, look

them in the face, say what you mean, put it plainly, boldly, earnestly’,

courteously, and they will hear you. Never speak against time or for the

sake of hearing your own voice, or you will obtain some information about

your personal appearance or manner of oratory which will probably be

more true than pleasing. “Crikey,” says one, “wouldn’t he do for an

undertaker! He’d make ‘era weep” This was a compliment paid to a

melancholy brother whose tone is peculiarly funereal. “There, old fellow,”

said a critic on another occasion, “you go and wet your whistle. You must

feel awfully dry after jawing away at that rate about nothing at; all.,” This

also was specially appropriate to a very heavy brother of whom we had

aforetime remarked that he would make a good martyr, for there was no

doubt of his burning well, he was so dry. It is sad, very sad, that such rude

remarks should be made, but there is a wicked vein in some of us, which

makes us take note that the vulgar observations are often very true, and

“hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature.” As caricature often gives you a

more vivid idea of a man than a photograph would afford you, so do these

rough mob critics hit off an orator to the life by their exaggerated censures.

The very best speaker must be prepared to take his share of street wit, and

to return it if need be; but primness, demureness, formality, sanctimonious

long-windedness, and the affection of superiority, actually invite offensive

pleasantries,! and to a considerable extent deserve them. Chadband or

Stiggins in rusty black, with plastered hair and huge choker, is as natural an

object of derision as Mr. Guido Fawkes himself. A very great man in his

own esteem will provoke immediate opposition, and the affectation of

supernatural saintliness will have ,the same effect. The less you are like a

parson the more likely you are to be heard; and, if you are known to be a

minister, the more you show yourself to be a man the better. “What do you

get for that, governor?” is sure to be asked, if you appear to be{ a cleric,

and it will be well to tell them at once that this is extra, that you are doing

overtime, and that there is to be no collection. “You’d do more good if you

gave us some bread or a drop of beer, instead of them tracts,” is constantly

remarked, but a manly manner, and the outspoken declaration that you

seek no wages but their good, will silence that stale objection.


The action of the street preacher should be of the very best. It should be

purely natural and unconstrained, into speaker should stand up in the street

in a grotesque manner, or he will weaken himself and invite attack. The

street preacher should not imitate his own minister, or the crowd will spy

out the imitation very speedily, if the brother is anywhere neat’ home.

Neither should he strike an attitude as little boys do who say, “My name is

Nerve!.” The stiff straight posture with the regular up and down motion of

arm and hand is too commonly adopted: and I would even more condemn

the wild-raving-maniac action which some are so fond Of, which seems to

be a cross between ‘Whitefield with both his arms in the air, and Saint

George with both his feet violently engaged in trampling on the dragon.

Some good men are grotesque by nature, and others take great pains to

make themselves so. The wicked Londoners say, “What a Cure I” I only

wish ][ knew of a cure for the evil.

All mannerisms should be avoided. Just now I observe that nothing can be

done without a very large Bagster’s Bible with a limp cover. There seems

to be some special charm about the large size, though it almost needs a

little perambulator in which to push it about With such a Bible full of

ribbons, select a standing in Seven Dials, after the pattern of a divine so

graphically described by Mr. McCree. Take off your hat, put your Bible in

it, and place it on the ground. Let the kind friend who approaches you on

the right hold your umbrella. See how eager the dear man is to do so! Is it

not pleasing? He assures you he is never so happy as when he is helping

good men to do good. Now close your eyes in prayer. When your

devotions are over, somebody will have profited by the occasion. Where is

your affectionate friend who held your umbrella and your hymn-book?

Where is that well-brushed hat, and that orthodox Bagster? Where? oh,

v/here? Echo answers, “Where?”

The catastrophe which I have thus described suggests that a brother had

better accompany you in your earlier ministries, that one may watch while

the other prays. If a number of friends will go with you and make a ring

around you it will be a great acquisition, and if these can sing it will be still

further helpful. The friendly’ company will attract others, will help to

secure order, and will do good service by sounding forth sermons in song.

It will be very desirable to speak so as to be heard, but there is no use in

incessant bawling. The best street preaching is not that which is (lone at the

top of your voice, for it must be impossible to lay the proper emphasis


upon telling passages when all along you are shouting with all your might.

When there are no hearers near you, and yet people stand upon the other

side of the road and listen, would it not be as well to cross over and so

save a little of the strength which is now wasted? A quiet, penetrating,

conversational style would seem to be the most telling. Men do. not bawl

and holler when they are pleading in deepest earnestness; they have

generally at such times less wind and a little more rain: less rant and a few

more tears. On, on, on with one monotonous shout and you will weary

everybody and wear out yourself. Be wise now, therefore, O ye who would

succeed in declaring your Master’s message among the multitude, and use

your voices as common sense worth! dictate.

In a tract published by that excellent society “The Open Air Mission,” I

notice the following

Qualifications For Open-Air Preachers.

1. A good voice.

2. Naturalness of manner.

3. Self-possession.

4. A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.

5. Ability. to adapt himself to any congregation.

6. Good]illustrative powers.

7. Zeal, prudence, and common sense.

8. A large, loving heart.

9. Sincere belief in all he says.

10. Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.

11. A close walk with God by prayer.

12. A consistent walk before men by a holy life.

If any man his all these qualifications, the Queen had better make a bishop

of him at once, yet there is no one of these qualities which could well be

dispensed with.


Interruptions are pretty sure to occur in the streets of London. At certain

places all will go well for months, but in other positions the fight begins as

soon as the speaker opens his mouth. There are seasons of opposition:

different schools of adversaries rise and fall, and accordingly there is

disorder or quiet. The best tact will not always avail to prevent

disturbance; when men are drunk there is no reasoning with them, and of

furious Irish Papists we may say much the same. Little is to be done with

such unless the crowd around will cooperate, as oftentimes they will, in

removing the obstructer. Certain characters, if they and that preaching is

going on, will interrupt by hook or by crook. They go on purpose, and if

answered Once and again they still persevere. One constant rule is to be

always courteous and good tempered, for if you become cross or angry it

is all over with you. Another rule is to keep to your subject, and never be

drawn into side issues. Preach Christ or nothing: don’t dispute or discuss

except with your eye on the cross. If driven off for a moment always be on

the watch to get back to your sole topic. Tell them the old, old story, and if

they will not hear that, move on. Yet be adroit, and take them with guile.

Seek the one object by many roads. A little mother-wit is often the best

resource and will work wonders with a crowd. Bonhommie is the next best

thing to grace on such occasions. A brother of my acquaintance silenced a

violent Romanist by offering him his stand and requesting hint to preach.

The man’s comrades for the very fun of the thing urged him on, but, as he

declined, the dog in the manger fable was narrated and the disturber

disappeared. If it be a real skeptic who is assailing you it is prudence to

shun debate as much as possible, or ask him questions in return, for your

business is not to argue but to proclaim the gospel. Mr. John McGregor

says “Skeptics are of many kinds. Some of them ask questions to get

answers, and others put difficulties to puzzle the people. An honest; skeptic

said to me in a crowd in Hyde-park, ‘ I have been trying to believe for

these ten years, but there is a contradiction I cannot get over, and it is this:

we are told that printing was invented not, five hundred years ago, and yet

that the Bible is five thousand years old, and I cannot for the life of me see

how this can be.’ Nay! the crowd did not laugh at this man. Very few

people in a crowd know much more than he did about the Bible. But how

deeply they drank in a half-hour’s account of the Scripture. manuscripts,

their preservation, their translations and versions, their dispersion and

collection, their collation and transmission, and the overwhelming evidence

of’ their genuine truth I”


I remember an infidel ,on Kennington Common being most effectually

stopped. He continued to cry up the beauties of nature and the works of

nature until the preacher asked him if he would kindly tell them what

nature was. He replied that “everybody knew what nature was.” The

preacher retorted, “Well, then, it will be all the easier for you to tell us.”

“Why, nature — nature/’ he said, “nature,-nature is nature.” Of course, the

crowd laughed and the wise man subsided.

Ignorance when it is allied with a coarse voluble tongue is to be met by

letting it have rope enough. One fellow wanted to know “‘.how Jacob

knew that Esau hated him” He had hold of the wrong end of the stick that

time, and the preacher did not enlighten him, or he would have set him up

with ammunition for future encounters.

Our business is not to supply men with arguments by informing them of

difficulties. In the process of answering them ministers have published the

sentiments of infidels more widely than the infidels themselves Could have

done. Unbelievers only “glean their blunted shafts, and shoot them at the

shield of truth again.’ Our object is not to conquer them in logical

encounters, but to save their souls. Real difficulties we should endeavor to

meet, and hence a competent knowledge of the evidences is most desirable;

but honest objectors are best conversed with alone, when they are not

ashamed to own themselves in the wrong, and this we could not expect of

them in the crowd. Christ is to be preached whether men will believe in him

or no. Our own experience of His power to save will be our best reasoning,

and earnestness our best rhetoric. The occasion will frequently suggest the

fittest thing to say, and we may also fall back on the Holy Spirit who will

teach us in the selfsame hour what we shall speak.

The open-air speaker’s calling is as honorable as it is arduous, as useful as

it is laborious. God alone can sustain you in it, but with Him at your side

you will have nothing to fear. If ten thousand rebels were before you and a

legion of devils in every one of them you aced not tremble. More is he that

is for you than all they that! be against you.

“By all helps host withstood,

We all hews host o’erthrow;

And conquering them, through Jesus’ blood.

We still to conquer go.”




THE subjects of this lecture are to be “Posture, Gesture, and Action in the

Delivery of a Sermon.” I shall not attempt to draw any hard and fast line of

division between the one and the other; for it would need a very highly

discriminating mind to keep them separate; indeed, it could not be done at

all, for they naturally merge into each other. As I have, after a fair trial,

found it; impossible to keep even “posture” and “gesture” in an absolutely

unmingled state in my own mind, I have allowed them to run together; but

I hope that no confusion will appear in the result.

The sermon itself is the main thing: its matter, its aim, and the spirit in

‘which it is brought before the people, the sacred anointing upon the

preacher, and the divine power applying the truth to the hearer : — these

are infinitely more important than any details of manner. Posture and action

are comparatively small and inconsiderable matters; but still even the sandal

in the statue of Minerva should be correctly carved, and in the service of

God even the smallest things should be regarded with holy care. Life is

made up of little incidents, and success in it often depends upon attention

to minor details. Small flies make the apothecary’s ointment to stink, and

little foxes spoil the vines, and therefore small flies red little foxes should

be kept out of our ministry. Doubtless, faults in even so secondary a matter

as posture have prejudiced’ men’s minds, and so injured the success of

what would otherwise have been most acceptable ministries. A man of

more than average abilities may, by ridiculous action, be thrown into the

rear rank and kept there. This is a great pity, even if there were only one

such case, but it is to be feared that many are injured by the same cause.

Little oddities and absurdities o[ mode and gesture which wise men would

endeavor not to notice are not overlooked by the general public; in fact,

the majority of hearers fix their eyes mainly upon those very things, while

those who come to scoff observe nothing else. Persons are either disgusted

or .diverted by the oddities of certain preachers, or else they want an

excuse for inattention, and jump at this convenient one: there can be n6

reason why we should help men to resist our own endeavors for their


good. No minister would willingly cultivate a habit which would blunt his

arrows, or drift them aside from the mark; and, therefore, since these minor

matters of movement:, posture, and gesture may have that effect, you will

give them your immediate attention.

We very readily admit that action in preaching is an affair of minor

consequence; for some who have succeeded in the highest sense have been

‘exceedingly faulty from the rhetorician’s point of view. At the present

moment there is in Boston, U.S. A., a preacher of the Very highest order

of power, of whom a friendly critic writes: “in the opening sentences one

or the other of his arms shakes at his side in a helpless fashion, as if it were

made of caudal vertebrae loosely jointed. He soon exhibits a most engaging

awkwardness, waddling about in a way to suggest that each leg is shorter

than the other, and shaking his head and shoulders in ungainly emphasis.

He raises one eyebrow in a quite impossible fashion, No one else can squint

so.” This is an instance of mind overcoming matter, and the excellence of

the teaching condoning defects in utterance; but it would be better if no

such drawbacks existed. Are not apples of gold all the more attractive for

being placed in baskets of silver? Why should powerful teaching be

associated with waddling and squinting? Still it is evident that proper

action is, to say the least, not essential to success. Homer would appear to

have considered the entire absence of gesture to be no detriment to

eminent power in speech, for he pictures one of his greatest heroes as

entirely abjuring it, though not without some sense of censure from his


But When Ulysses rose, in thought profound,

His modest eyes he fixed upon the ground;

As one unskilled or dumb, he seemed to stand,

Nor rais’d his head, nor stretched his sceptred hand.

But When he speaks, what elocution flows!

Soft; as the fleeces of descending snows,

The Copious accents fall, with easy art;

Melting they fall, and sink into the heart!

Wondering we hear, and, fixed in deep surprise,

Our ears refute the censures of our eyes.”

Nor need! we go back to the ancients for proof that an exceedingly quiet

action may be connected with the highest power of eloquence, for several

instances occur to us among the moderns. One may suffice: our own

supremely gifted Robert Hall had no oratorical action, and scarcely any


motion in the pulpit, except an occasional lifting or waving of the right

hand, and in his most impassioned moments an alternate retreat and


It is not so much incumbent upon you to acquire right pulpit action as it is

to get rid of that which is wrong. If you could be reduced to motionless

dummies, it would be better than being active and. even vigorous

incarnations of the grotesque, as some of our brethren have been. Some

men by degrees fall into a suicidal style of preaching, and it is a very rare

thing indeed to see a man escape when once he has entangled himself in the

meshes of an evil mannerism. No one likes to tell them of their queer

antics, and so they are unaware of them; but it is surprising that their wives

do not mimic them in private and laugh them. out of their awkwardness. I

have heard of a brother who in his earlier days was most acceptable, but

who afterwards dropped far behind in the race because he by degrees fell

into bad habits: he spoke with a discordant whine, assumed most singular

attitudes, and used such extraordinary mouthings that people could not

hear him with pleasure. He developed into a man to be esteemed and

honored, but not to be listened to. Excellent Christian men have said that

they (lid not know whether to laugh or to cry when they were hearing him

preach: they felt as if they must laugh at the bidding of nature, and then

they felt that they ought to cry from the impulse of grace when they saw so

good a preacher utterly ruined by absurd affectations. If you do not care to

cultivate proper action, at least be wise enough to steer clear of that which

is grotesque or affected. There; is a wide range between the fop, curling

and perfuming his locks, and permitting one’s hair to hang in matted

masses like the mane of a wild beast. We should never advise you to

practice postures before a glass, nor to imitate great divines, nor to ape the

fine gentleman.; but there is no need, on the other hand, to be vulgar or

absurd. Postures and attitudes are merely a small part of the dress of a

discourse, and it is not in dress that the substance of the matter lies: a man

in fustian is “a man for a’ that,” and so a sermon which is oddly delivered

may be a good sermon for all that; but still, as none of you would care to

wear a pauper’s suit if you could procure better raiment, so you should not

be so slovenly as to clothe truth like a mendicant when you might array her

as a prince’s daughter.

Some men are naturally very awkward in their persons and movements. I

suppose we must blame what the countryman called their “broughtens up.”

The rustic’s gait is heavy, and his walk is slouching. You can see that his


natural habitat is a ploughed field. On the pavement or the carpet he is

suspicious of his footing, but down a muddy lane, with a mule’s burden of

earth on each boot, he progresses with ease, if not with elegance. There is

a lumpishness and lubberliness innate in the elements of some men’s

constitutions. You could not make them elegant if you brayed[ them in a

mortar among wheat with a pestle. The drill-sergeant is of the · utmost use

in our schools, and those parents who think that drill exercise is a waste of

time are very much mistaken. There is a shape and handiness, a general

propriety of form, which the ]human body acquires under proper drill

which seldom comes in any other manner.!)rill brings a man’s shoulders

down, keeps his arms from excessive swinging, expands the chest, shows

him what to do with his hands, and, in a word, teaches a man how to walk

uprightly, and to bring himself into something like ship-shape, without any

conscious effort to do so, which effort would be a sure betrayal of his

awkwardness. Very spiritual people will think me trifling, but indeed I am

not. I hope the day will come when it will be looked upon as an essential

part of education to teach a young man how to carry himself, and move

without clumsiness.

It may happen that awkward gestures arise from feeble utterance, and a

nervous consciousness of lack of power in that direction. Certain splendid

men of our acquaintance are so modest as to be diffident, and hence ‘they

become hesitating in speech, and disarranged in manner. Perhaps no more

notable instance of this can be mentioned than the late beloved Dr. James

Hamilton. He was the most beautiful and chaste of speakers, with an action

painful to the last degree. His biographer says: — ”In mental resources and

acquirements he was possessed of great wealth; but in the capacity to utter

his thoughts, with all the variation of tone and key which their nature,

required, yet so as to be thoroughly heard in a great edifice, he was far less

gifted. In this department accordingly, he was always pained by a

conscious shortcoming from his own ideal. It is certain that lack of vocal

force, and ready control over his intonations, largely detracted from the

power and popularity of his preaching. In delicacy of conception, in the

happy choice of idioms, in the command of striking and original imagery,

and in the glow of evangelical fervor that pervaded all, he had few equals.

These rare qualities, however, were shorn of half their strength, in as far as

his public preaching was concerned, by the necessity under which he

constantly lay of straining to make himself audible, by standing on his tiptoes,

and throwing out his words in handfuls, if so be they might reach the


far-distant aisles. If the muscles of his chest had been such as to enable

him to stand solidly at ease, while his lips performed the task of articulation

without the aid of auxiliary blasts from over-inflated lungs, James Hamilton

would certainly have been followed by greater crowds, and obtained access

for his message to a wider and more varied circle.. But we do not know

what counterbalancing evil might have come in along with such external

success. Although with all his prayers and pains this thorn was still left in

the flesh, the grand compensation remained: ‘My grace is sufficient for

thee; my strength is perfect in thy weakness.’ What talents the ;Lord saw

meet to bestow, he laid out with marvelous skill and diligence in the giver’s

service, and if some of the talents were withheld, the Withholder knows

why. He hath done all things well.” In this sentiment we heartily concur,

but we should be sorry for any young man to submit at discretion to a

similar defect, and ascribe it to the hand of the Lord. Dr. Hamilton did not

so. He earnestly endeavored to overcome his natural disadvantage, and to

our knowledge took lessons of more than one professor of elocution, lie

did not take refuge in the sluggard’s plea, but labored hard to master the

difficulty., and only failed because it was a physical defect beyond all

remedy. Let us wherever we see awkwardness, which is evidently

unavoidable, take little or no notice of it, and take care to commend the

brother that he does so well under the circumstances; counting it no small

achievement for a divine to cover by richness of thought and fitness of

language the ungainliness of his outer man, thus making the soul triumph

over the body. Yet should we ourselves be afflicted with any fault of

manner, let us resolve to overcome it, for it is not an impossible task.

Edward Irving was a striking instance of a man’s power to improve himself

in this respect. At first his manner was awkward, constrained, and

unnatural; but by diligent culture his attitude and action were made to be

striking aids to his eloquence.

- Pulpits have much to answer for in having made men awkward. What

horrible inventions they are! If we could once abolish them we might say

concerning them as Joshua did concerning Jericho .... “Cursed be he that

buildeth this Jericho,” for the old-fashioned pulpit has been a greater curse

to the churches than is at first; sight evident. ]No barrister would ever enter

a pulpit to plead a case at the bar. How could he hope to succeed while

‘buried alive almost up to his shoulders? The client would be ruined if the

advocate were thus imprisoned. How manly, how commanding is the

attitude in which Chrysostom is usually represented! Forgetting his robes


for the moment one cannot but feel that such a natural posture is far more

worthy of sublime truth than that of a person crouching over a sheet of

paper, looking up very occasionally, and then revealing no more than his

head and shoulders. Austin in his Chiro-nomia f3 very properly says.

“Freedom is also necessary ‘to gracefulness of action. ]No, gestures can be

graceful which are either confined by external circumstances, or restrained

by file mind. If a man were obliged to address an assembly from a narrow

window, through, which he could not extend ]his arms; and Iris ]head, it

would ]be in vain for him ,to attempt graceful gesture. Confinement in

every lesser degree must be proportionally injurious to grace; thus the

crowded bar is injurious to the action of the advocate, and the enclosed”

and bolstered pulpit,’ which often cuts off more than half of his figure, is

equally injurious to the graceful action of the preacher.”

The late Thomas Binney was unable to endure a platform, and was known

to fetch gowns and other materials to hang over the rails of an open

rostrum, if he found himself placed in one: this must have arisen solely

from the force of habit, for there can be no real advantage in being

enclosed in a wooden pen. This feeling will no doubt retain the close pulpit

in its place for awhile longer, but in ages to come men will find an

argument for the divinity of our holy faith in the fact that it survived


Ministers cannot be blamed for ungainly postures and attitudes when only a

very small part of their bodies can be seen during a discourse. If it was the

custom to preach as Paul did at Athens public speakers would become

models of propriety, but when the usual method is modeled upon our

woodcut of “The Reverend Dr. Paul preaching in London” we cannot

marvel if the ungainly and the grotesque abound. By the way, it is

interesting to note that Raphael in his representation of Paul at Athens

evidently had in his mind the apostle’s utterance, “God dwelleth not in

temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with man’s hands”: hence

he delineates him as lifting his hands. I am indebted for this hint to G. W.

Hervey, M.A., who has written a very able and comprehensive “System of

Rhetoric.” F4

Remarkable are the forms which pulpits have assumed according to the

freaks of human fancy and folly. Twenty years ago they had probably

reached their very’ worst. What could have been their design and intent it

would be hard to conjecture. A deep wooden pulpit of the old soft; might


well remind a minister of his mortality, for it is nothing but a coffin set on

end: but on what rational ground do we bury our pastors alive? Many of

these erections resemble barrels, others are of the fashion of egg cups and

wine glasses; a third Class were evidently modeled after corn bins upon

four legs; and yet a fourth variety can only be likened to swallows’ nests

stuck upon the wall. Some of them are so high as to turn the heads of the

occupants when they dare to peer into the awful depths below them, and

they give those who look up to the elevated preacher for an:/length of time

a crick in the neck. I have felt like a man at the mast-head while perched

aloft in these “towers of the flock.” These abominations are in themselves

evils, and create evils.

While I am upon pulpits I will make a digression, and remark for the

benefit of deacons and churchwardens that I frequently notice in pulpits a

most: abominable savor of gas, which evidently arises from leakage in the

gas-pipes, and is very apt to make a preacher feel half intoxicated, or to

sicken him. We ought to be spared this infliction. Frequently, also, a large

lamp is placed dose to each side of the minister’s head, thus cramping all

his movements and placing him between two fires. If any complaints, are

made of the hot-headedness, of our ministers, it is readily to be accounted

for, since the apparatus for’ the purpose is arranged, with great care. Only

the other night I had the privilege, when I sat down in the pulpit, to feel as

if some one had smitten me on the top of my head, and as I looked up there

was an enormous argand burner with a reflector placed immediately above

me, in order to throw a light on my Bible: a yet7 considerate contrivance

no doubt, only the inventor had forgotten that his burners were pouring

down a terrible heat upon a sensitive brain. One has no desire to experience

an artificial coup de soleil while preaching; if we must suffer from such[ a

calamity let it come upon us during our holidays, and let it befall us from

the sun himself. No one in erecting a pulpit seems to think of the preacher

as a man of like feelings and senses with other people; the seat upon which

you are to rest at intervals is often a mere ledge, and the door handle runs

into the small of your back, while when you standup and would come to

the front there is often a curious gutta-percha bag interposed between you

and your pulpit. This gummy depository is charitably intended for the

assistance of certain deaf people, who are I hope benefited; they ought to

be, for every evil should have a compensating influence. You cannot bend

forward without forcing this contrivance to close up, and I for my own part

usually deposit my pocket-handkerchief in it, which causes the deaf people


to take the ends of the tubes out of their ears and to discover that they hear

me well enough without them.

No one knows the discomfort of pulpits except the man who has been in

very many, and found each one worse than the last. They are generally so

deep that a short person like myself can scarcely see over the top of them,

and when I ask for something to stand upon they bring me a hassock.

Think of a minister of the gospel poising himself upon a hassock while he is

preaching: a Boanerges and a Blondin in one person. It is too much to

expect us to keep the balance of our minds and the equilibrium of our

bodies at the same time. The tippings up, and overturnings of stools and

hassocks which I have had to suffer while preaching rush on my memory

now, and revive the most painful sensations. Surely we ought to be saved

such petty annoyances, for their evil is by no means limited by our

discomfort; if it were so, it would be of no consequence; but, alas! these

little things often throw the mind out of gear, disconnect our thoughts, and

trouble our spirit. We ought to rise superior to such trifles, but though the

spirit truly is willing the flesh is weak. It is marvelous how the mind is

affected by the most trifling matters: there can be no need to perpetuate

needless causes of discomfort. Sydney Smith’s story shows that we have

not been alone in our tribulation. “I can’t bear,” said he, “to be imprisoned

in the true orthodox way in my pulpit, with my head just peeping above the

desk. I like to look down upon my congregation — to fire into them. The

common people say I am a bold preacher, for I like to have my arms free,

and to thump the pulpit. A singular contretemps happened to me once,

when, to effect this, I had ordered the clerk to pile up some hassocks for

me to stand on. My text was,’ We are perplexed, but not in despair;

persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.’ I had scarcely

uttered these words, and was preparing to illustrate them, when I did so

practically, and in a way I had not at all anticipated. My fabric of hassocks

suddenly gave way; down I fell, and with difficulty prevented myself front

being precipitated into the arms of my congregation, who, I must say,

behaved very well, and recovered their gravity sooner than I could have


But I must return to my subject, and I do so by repeating the belief that

boxed-up pulpits are largely accountable for the ungainly postures which

some of our preachers assume when they are out of their cages and are

loose upon a platform. They do not know What to do with their legs and

arms, and feel awkward and exposed, arid hence drop into ridiculous


attitudes. When a man has been accustomed to regard himself as an

“animated bust” he feels as if he had become too long when he is made to

appear at full length.

There can be no doubt that many men are made awkward through .tear. It

is not the man’s nature, nor his pulpit, but his nervousness which makes a

guy of him. To some it is a display of great courage even to stand before

an audience, and to speak is an ordeal indeed: no wonder that their attitude

is constrained, for they are twitching and trembling all over. Every nerve is

in a state of excitement, and their whole body is tremulous with fear.

Especially are they perplexed what to do with their hands, and they move

them about in a restless, irregular, meaningless manner; if ‘they could have

them strapped down to their sides they might rejoice in the deliverance.

One of the clergy of the Church of England, in pleading for the use of the

manuscript, makes use of the remarkable argument that a nervous man by

having to turn over the leaves Of his discourse thus keeps his hands

occupied; whereas, if he had no paper before him, he would not know what

to do with them. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good, and it must

be a very bad practice indeed which has not some remote and occasional

advantages. For nervousness, however, there must be a [more effectual

treatment; the preacher should try to conquer the evil rather than look for a

mode of concealing its outward manifestations. Practice is a great remedy,

and faith in God is a still more potent cure. When the minister becomes

accustomed to the people he stands at ease because he is at ease, he feels at

home, and as to his hands or legs, or any other part of his person, he has no

thought: he goes to work with all his heart, and drops into the positions

most natural to an earnest man, and these are the most appropriate.

Unstudied gestures, to which you never turned your thoughts for a

moment, are the very best, and the highest result of art is to banish art, and

leave the man as free to be graceful as the gazelle among the mountains.

Occasional oddities of posture and gesture may arise from the difficulty of

finding the next word. An American observer some years ago said,” It is

interesting, sometimes, to see the different ways in which ,different

individuals get out of the same dilemma. Mr. Calhoun is not often at a loss

for a word, but occasionally one sticks in his throat, in the pronunciation,

like Macbeth’s ‘ Amen.’ In such a case he gives a petulant twitch or two at

his shirt collar, and runs his bony fingers through his long gray hair, till it

fairly bristles again. Webster, when bothered for a word, or snarled up-in a

sentence, almost invariably scratches the inner corner of his left eye


carefully with the third finger of his right hand. Failing in this, he rubs his

nose quite fiercely with the bent knuckle of his thumb. As a dernier

ressort, he springs his knees apart until his legs resemble an ellipsis, then

plunging his hands deep into his pockets, he throws the upper section of his

body smartly forward, and the word is ‘ bound to come.’“ A man ought to

be forgiven for what he does when he is in an agony, but it would be a

great gain if he never suffered from such embarrassments, and so escaped

from the consequent contortions.

Habit also frequently leads speakers into very singular move-merits, and

to these they become so wedded that they cannot speak without them.

Tugging at a button at the back of the coat, or twiddling the fingers, will be

often seen, not as a part of the preacher’s oratory, but as a sort of free

accompaniment to it. Addison, in the Spectator, relates an amusing incident

of this kind. “I remember, when I was a young man, and used to frequent

Westminster Hall, there was a counselor who never pleaded without a

piece of packthread in his hand, which he used to twist about a thumb or a

finger all the while he was speaking: the wags of’ those days used to call it

the thread of his discourse, for he was not able to utter a word without it.

One of his clients, who was more merry that wise, stole it from him one

day in the midst of his pleading, but he had better have let it alone, for he

lost hi, cause by his jest.” Gentlemen who are as yet free from such little

peculiarities should be upon their guard lest they should gradually yield to

them; but, so long as they are mere trifles, observed only by the few, and

not injurious to the preacher’, efforts, no great stress needs to be laid upon


The posture of the minister should be natural, but his nature must not be of

a coarse type; it should be graceful, educated nature. He should avoid

especially those positions which are unnatural to, a speaker, because they

hamper the organs of utterance, or cramp his lungs. He should use his

common sense, and not make it difficult for him to speak by leaning

forward over the Bible or book-board. Bending over as if you were

speaking confidentially to the persons immediately below may be tolerated

occasionally, but as a customary position it is as injurious as it is

ungraceful. Who thinks of stooping when he speaks in the parlor? What

killing work it would be to conduct a long conversation while pressing the

‘breathing apparatus against the edge of a table! Stand upright, get a firm

position, an,] then speak like a man. A few orators even err in the other

direction, and throw their heads far back: as though they were addressing


the angels, or saw a handwriting Upon the ceiling. This also cometh of evil,

and unless the occasional sublime apostrophe requires it, is by no means to

be practiced. John Wesley well says, “The head ought not to be held up too

high, nor clownishly thrust too forward, neither to be cast down and hang,

as it were, on the breast; nor to lean always on one or the other side; but to

be kept modestly and decently upright, in its natural state and position.

Further, it ought neither to be kept immovable, as a statue, nor to be

continually moving and throwing itself about. To avoid both extremes, it

should be turned gently, as occasion is, sometimes one way, sometimes/he

other; and at other times remain, looking straight forward, to the middle of

the auditory.”

Too many’ men assume a slouching attitude, lolling and sprawling as if

they were lounging on the parapet of a bridge and chatting with somebody

down in a boat on the river. We do not go into the pulpit to slouch about,

and to look free and easy, but we go there upon very solemn business, and

our posture should be such as becomes our mission. A reverent and earnest

spirit will not be indicated by a sluggish lounge or a careless slouch. It is

said that among the Greeks even the ploughmen and herdsmen take up

graceful attitudes without any idea that they are doing so. I think it is also

true of the Italians, for wherever I have seen a Roman man or woman —

no matter whether they are sleeping upon the Spagna steps, or sitting upon

a fragment of the baths of Caracalla, or carrying a bundle on their heads, or

riding a mule, they always look like studies; for an artist; yet this is the last

thing which ever crosses their minds. Those picturesque peasants have

never taken lessons in calisthenics, nor do they trouble their heads as to

how they appear to the foreigner; pure nature, delivered from mannerism,

primness, and affectation, molds their habits into gracefulness. We should

be foolish to imitate Greeks or Italians, except in their freedom from all

imitation, but it were well if we could copy their unconstrained and natural

action. There is no reason why a Christian should be a clown, and there are

a great many reasons why a minister should not be a boor. As Rowland Hill

said that he could not see why Satan should have the best tunes, so neither

can I see why he should have the most graceful speakers!

Now, leaving posture, let us more distinctly notice action in preaching; this

also is a secondary and yet an important item. Our first: observation shall

be, it should never be excessive. In this matter bodily exercise profiteth

little. We cannot readily judge when action is excessive, for what; would be

excessive in one man may be most fitting and proper in another. Different


races employ different action in speaking. Two Englishmen will talk very

quietly and soberly to one another compared with a couple of Frenchmen.

Notice our Gallic neighbors: they talk all over, and shrug their shoulders,

and move their fingers, and gesticulate most vehemently. Very well, then,

we may allow a French preacher to be more demonstrative in preaching

than an Englishman, because he is so in ordinary speech. I am not sure that

a French divine is so as a matter of fact, but if he were so it could be

accounted for by the national habit. If you and I were to converse in the

Parisian fashion we should excite ridicule, and, in the same way, if we were

to become violent and vehement in the pulpit we might run the same risk;

for if Addison be an authority, English orators use less gestures than those

of other countries. As it is with races so is it with men: some naturally

gesticulate more than others, and if it be really natural, we have little fault

to find. ]For instance, we cannot censure John Gough’s marvelous

gesticulation and perambulation, for he would not have been Gough

without them. I wonder how many miles he walks in the course of one of

his lectures! Did we not see him climb the sides of a volcano in pursuit of a

bubble? How we pitied him as we saw him ankle deep in the hot ashes!

Then he was away, away at the other end of the platform at Exeter Hall,

apostrophising a glass of water; but he only stopped there a moment, and

anon made another rush over the corns of the temperance brethren in the

front row. Now, this was right, enough for John Gough; but if you, John

Smith. or John Brown, commence these perambulations you will soon be

likened to the wandering Jew, or to the polar bear, at the Zoological

Gardens, which for ever goes backwards and forwards in its den. Martin

Luther was wont to smite with his fist at such a rate that they show, at

Eisenach, a board — I think a three-inch board — which he broke while

hammering at a text. The truth of the legend has been doubted, for it has

been asserted that those delicate hands, which could play so charmingly

upon the guitar, could hardly have been treated so roughly; but if the hand

be an index of its owner’s character, we can well believe it, for strength

and tenderness were marvellously combined in Luther. There ‘was much

delicacy and sensitiveness about Luther’s mind, yet these never diminished,

but rather increased, its tremendous energy.. It is by no means difficult to

believe that he could smash up a plank, from the style in which he struck

out at the Pope; and yet we can well imagine that he would touch the

strings of his guitar with a maiden’s hand; even as David could play

skillfully upon the harp, and yet a bow of steel was broken by his arms..

John Knox is said at one time to have been so feeble that, before he entered


the pulpit, you would expect to see him drop down in a fainting fit; but

once before the audience he seemed as though he would “ding the pulpit in

blads,” which, being interpreted, means in English that he would knock it

into shivers. That was evidently the style of the period when Protestants

were fighting; for their very existence, and the Pope and his priests and the

de, vii and his angels were aroused to special fury: yet I do not suppose

that Melancthon thought it needful to be quite so tremendous, nor did

Calvin hammer and slash in a like manner. At any rate, you need not try to

break three-inch boards, for there might be a nail in one of them; neither

need you ding a pulpit into “blads,” for you might find yourself without a

pulpit if you did., Come upon consciences with a crash, and aim at

breaking hard hearts by the power of the Spirit, but these require spiritual

power; physical energy is not the power of God unto salvation.

It is. very easy to overdo the thing so much as to make yourself appear

ridiculous. Perhaps it was a keen perception of this danger which led Dr.

Johnson to forbid action altogether, and to commend Dr. Watts very highly

because “he did not endeavor to assist his eloquence by any gesticulations;

for as no corporeal actions have any correspondence with theological truth,

he did not see how they could enforce it.” The great lexicographer’s

remark is nonsense, but if it should be thought weighty enough to reduce a

preacher to absolute inaction, it will be better than overwrought posturing.

When Nathan addressed David, I suppose that he delivered his parable very

quietly, and that when the time came to say, “Thou art the man,” he gave

the king a deeply earnest look; but younger ministers imagine that the

prophet strode into the middle of the room and, setting his right foot

forward, pointed his finger like a pistol between the royal eyes, and giving

a loud stamp of the foot, shouted,. “THOU ART THE MAN.” Had it been so

done it is to be feared that the royal culprit would have had his thoughts

turned from himself to the insane prophet, and would have called for his

guard to clear the hall. Nathan was too solemnly in earnest to be indecently

violent; and as a general rule we may here note that it is the tendency of

deep feeling rather to subdue the manner than to render it too energetic,

He who beats the air, and bawls, and raves, and stamps, means nothing;

and the more a man really means what he says the less of vulgar vehemence

will there be. John Wesley in his “Directions concerning Pronunciation and

Gesture” cramps the preacher too much when he says, He must never

clap his hands, nor thump the pulpit. The hands should seldom be raised

higher than the eyes “but he probably had his eye upon some glaring case


of extravagance. He is right, however, when he warns his preachers that

“the hands should not be in perpetual motion, for this the ancients called

the babbling of the hands.”

Russell very wisely says: “True vehemence never degenerates into violence

and vociferation. It is the force of inspiration, — not of frenzy. It is not

manifested in the screaming and foaming, the stamping and the contortions,

of vulgar excess. It is ever manly and noble, in its intensest excitement: it

elevates, — it’ does not degrade. It never descends to the bawling voice,

the guttural coarseness, the shrieking emphasis, the hysteric ecstasy of

tone, the bullying attitude, and the clinched fist of extravagant passion.” F5

When your sermon seems to demand of you a little imitative action, be

peculiarly watchful lest you go too far, for this you may do before you are

aware of it. I have heard of a young divine who in expostulation witch the

unconverted, exclaimed, “Alas, you shut your eyes to the light (here he

closed both eyes, you stop your ears to the truth (here he put a finger into

each ear); and you turn your backs upon salvation” (here; he turned his

back on the people). Do you wonder that when the people saw a man

standing with his back to them and his fingers in his ears they all fell to

laughing? The action might be appropriate, but it was overdone, and had

better have been left undone.. Violent gesture, even when commended by

some, will be sure to strike others from its comic side. When Burke in the

House of Commons flung down the dagger to show that Englishmen were

making weapons to be used against their own .countrymen, his action

seems to me to have been striking and much to the purpose, and yet

,.Sheridan said, “The gentleman has brought us the knife, where is the

fork?” and Gilray wickedly caricatured him. The risks of too little action

are by no means great, but you can plainly see that there are great perils in

the other direction, Therefore, do not carry action too far, and if you feel

that you are naturally very energetic in your delivery, repress your energies

a little. Wave your hands a little less, smite the Bible somewhat more

mercifully, and in general take matters rather more calmly.

Perhaps a man is nearest to the golden mean in action when his manner

excites no remark either of praise or censure, because it is so completely of

a piece with the discourse that it is not regarded as a separate item at all.

That action which gains conspicuous notice is probably out of proportion,

and excessive. Mr. Hall once spent; an evening with Mrs. Hannah More,

and his judgment upon her manners might well serve as a criticism upon


the mannerisms of ministers. “Nothing striking, madam, certainly not. Her

manners are too perfectly proper to be striking. Striking manners are bad

manners, you know, madam. Site is a perfect lady, and studiously avoids

those eccentricities which constitute striking manners.”

In the second place, action should be expressive and appropriate. We

cannot express so much by action as by language, but one may express a

few things with even greater force. Indignantly to open a door am! point to

it is quite as emphatic as the words, “Leave the room!” To refuse the hand

when another offers his own is a very marked declaration of ill-will, and

will probably create a more enduring bitterness than the severest words.’ A

request to remain silent upon a certain subject could be well conveyed by

laying the finger across the lips. A shake of the head indicates

disapprobation in a very marked manner. The lifted eyebrows express

surprise in a forcible style; and every part of the face has its own eloquence

of pleasure and of grief. What volumes can be condensed into a shrug of

the shoulders, and what mournful mischief that same shrug has wrought!

Since, then, gesture and posture can speak powerfully’, we must take care

to let them speak correctly. It will never do to imitate the famous Grecian

who cried, “O heaven!” with his finger pointing to the earth; nor to

describe dying weakness by thumping upon the book-board. Nervous

speakers appear to fire at random with their gestures, and you may see

them wringing their hands while they are dilating upon the joys of faith, or

grasping the side of the pulpit, convulsively when they are bidding the

believer hold all earthly things with a loose hand. Even when no longer

timorous, brethren do not always manage their gestures so as to make

them run parallel with their words. Men may be seen denouncing with

descending fist the very persons whom they are endeavoring to comfort.

No brother among you would, I hope, be so stupid as to clasp his hands

while saying — ” the gospel is not meant to be confined to a few. Its spirit

is generous and expansive. It opens its arms to men of all ranks and

nations.” It would be an equal solecism if you were to spread forth your

arms and cry, “Brethren, concentrate your energies! Gather them up, as a

commander gathers his troops to the royal standard in the day of battle.”

Now, put the gestures into their proper places and see how diffusion may

be expressed by the opened arms, and concentration by the united hands.

Action and tone together may absolutely contradict the meaning of the,

words. The Abbe Mullois tells us of a malicious wag who on hearing a

preacher pronounce those terrible words, “Depart, ye cursed,” in the


blandest manner, turned to his companion and said, “Come here, my lad,

and let me embrace you; that is what the parson has just expressed.” This is

a sad business, but by no means an uncommon one. What force may the

language of Scripture lose through the preacher’s ill-delivery! Those words

which the French preacher pronounced in so ill a manner are very terrible,

and I felt them to be: so when a short while ago I heard them hissed forth

in awful earnest, by an insane person who thought himself a prophet sent to

curse myself and my congregation.. “Depart, ye cursed” came forth from

his lips like the mutterings ,of thunder, and the last word seemed to bite

into the very soul, as with flaming eye and outstretched hand the fanatic

flashed it upon the assembly.

Too many speakers appear to have taken lessons from Bendigo, or some

other professor of the noble art of self-defense, for they hold their fists as if

they were ready for a round. It is not pleasant to watch brethren preaching

the gospel of peace in that pugnacious style; yet it is by no means rare to

hear of an evangelist preaching a free Christ with a clinched fist. It is

amusing to see them putting themselves into an attitude and saying, “Come

unto me,” and then, with a revolution of both fists, “and I will give you —

rest.” Better not suggest such ridiculous ideas, but they have been

suggested more than once by men who earnestly desired above all things to

make their hearers think of better things. Gentlemen, I am not at all

surprised at year laughing, but it is infinitely better that you should have a

hearty laugh at these absurdities here than that your people should laugh at

you in the future. I am giving you no imaginary sketch, but one which I

have seen myself and fear I may yet see again.. Those awkward hands, if

once brought into subjection, become our best allies. We can talk with

them almost as well as with our tongues, and make a sort of silent music

with them which will add to the charm of our words. If you have never

read Sir Charles Bell on “The Hand,” be sure to do so, and note well the

following passage : — ” We must not omit to speak of the hand as an

instrument of expression. Formal dissertations have been written on this.

But were we constrained to seek authorities, we might take the great

painters in evidence, since by the position of the hands, in conformity with

the figure, they have expressed every sentiment. Who, for example, can

deny the eloquence of the hands in the Magdalens of Guido; their

expression, in the cartoons of Raphael., or in the last Supper, by Leonardo

da Vinci? We see there expressed all that Quinc-tilian says the hand is

capable of expressing. ‘ For other parts of the body says he, ‘ assist the


speaker, but these, I may say, speak themselves. By them we ask, we

promise, we invoke, we dismiss, we threaten, we intreat,, we deprecate we

express fear, joy, grief, our doubts, our assent, our penitence: we show

moderation, or profusion; we mark number and time.’“

The face, and especially the eyes, will play a very important part in all

appropriate action. It is very unfortunate when ministers cannot look at

their people. It is singular to hear them pleading with persons whom they

do not see. They are entreating them to look to Jesus upon the cross! You

wonder where the sinners are. The preacher’s eyes are turned upon his

book, or up to the ceiling, or into empty space. It seems to me that you

must fix your eyes upon the people when you come to exhortation. There

are parts of a sermon in which the sublimity of the doctrine may call for the

uplifted gaze, and there are other portions Which may allow the eyes to

wander as you will; but when pleading time has come, it will be

inappropriate to look anywhere but to the persons addressed. Brethren

who never do this at all lose a great power. When Dr. Wayland was ill, he

wrote, Whether I am to recover my former health I know not. If, however,

I should be permitted to preach again, I will certainly do what is in my

power to learn to preach directly to men, looking them in their faces, and

not looking at the paper on the desk.”

The mere who would be perfect in posture and gesture must regulate his

whole frame, for in one case a man’s most suitable action will be that of his

head, and in another that of his hands, and in a third that of his trunk alone.

Quinctilian says — ” The sides should, bear their part in the gesture. The

motion, also, of the whole ‘body’ contributes much to the effect in

delivery: so much so that Cicero is of opinion that more can be done by its

gesture than even by the hands themselves. Thus he says in his work De

Otto’,ore — ‘There will be no affected motions of the fingers, no fall of the

fingers to suit the measured cadence of the language; but he will produce

gestures by the movements of his whole body and by the manly inflection

of his side.’”

I might multiply illustrations of what I mean by appropriate action, but

these must suffice. Let the gesture tally with the words, and be a sort of

running commentator and practical exegesis upon what you are saying.

Here I must make a pause, hoping to continue the subject in my next

lecture. But so conscious am I that many may think my subject so

secondary as to be of no importance whatever, that I close by giving an


instance of the careful manner in which great painters take heed to minute

details, only drawing this inference, that; if they are thus attentive to little

things, much more ought we to be. Vigneul Marville says: — ” When I

was at Rome I frequently saw Claude, who was then patronized by the

most eminent persons in that city; I frequently met him on the banks of the

Tiber, or wandering in the neighborhood of Rome, amidst the venerable

remains of antiquity. He was then an old man, yet I have seen him returning

from his walk with his handkerchief filled with mosses, flowers, stones,

etc., that he might consider them at home with that indefatigable attention

which rendered him so exact a copier of nature. I asked him one day by

what means he arrived at such an excellency of character among painters,

even in Italy. ‘ I spare no pains whatever, even in the minutest trifles,’ was

the modest reply of this venerable genius.”





THIS lecture begins at thirdly. If you remember, we have said that gesture

should not be excessive, and secondly that it should be appropriate: now

comes the third canon, action and gesture should never be grotesque. This

is plain enough, and I shall not enforce it except by giving specimens of the

grotesque, that you may not only avoid the identical instances, but all of a

similar character. In all ages absurd gestures would appear to have been

very numerous, for in an old author I find a long list of oddities, some of

which it is to be hoped have taken their leave of this world, while others

are described in language so forcible that it probably’ caricatures the actual

facts. This writer says: “Some hold their heads immovable, and turned to

one side, as if they were made of’ horn; others stare with their eyes as

horribly as if they’ intended to frighten every one; some are continually

twisting their mouths and working their chins while they are speaking, as if,

all the time, they were cracking nuts; some like the apostate Julian, breathe

insult, and express contempt and impudence in their countenances.. Others,

as if they personated the fictitious heroes in tragedy, gape enormously, and

extend their jaws as widely as if they were going to swallow up everybody:

above all, when they bellow with fury, they scatter their foam about, and

threaten with contracted brow, and eyes like Saturn. These, as if they were

playing some game, are continually making motions with their fingers, and,

by the extraordinary working of their hands, endeavor to form in the air, I

may almost say, all the figures of the mathematicians: those, on the

contrary, have hands so ponderous, and so fastened down by terror, that

they could more easily move beams of timber. Many labor so with their

elbows, that it is evident, either that they had been formerly shoemakers

themselves, or had lived in no other society than that of cobblers. Some are

so unsteady in the motions of their bodies, that they seem to be speaking

out of a cock-boat; others again are so unwieldy’ and uncouth in their

motions, that you would think them to be sacks of tow painted to look like

men. I have seen some who jumped on the platform and capered nearly in


measure; men that exhibited the fuller’s dance, and, as the old poet says,

expressed their wit, with their feet. But who in a short compass is able to

enumerate all the faults of gesture, and all the absurdities of bad delivery?”

This catalogue might surely content the most voracious collector for the

chamber of horrors, but it does not include the half of what may be seen in

our own times by anyone who is able to ramble from one assembly to

another. As children seem never to have exhausted their mischievous

tricks, so speakers appear never to be at the end of their singular gestures.

Even the best fall into them occasionally.

The first species of grotesque action may be named the stiff; and this is

very common. Men who exhibit this horror appear to have no bend in their

bodies and to be rigid about the joints. The arms and legs are moved as if

they were upon iron hinges, and were made of exceedingly hard metal. A

wooden anatomical doll, such as artists use, might well represent their

limbs so straight and stiff, but it would fail to show the jerks with which

those limbs are thrown up and down. There is nothing round in the action

of these brethren; everything is angular, sharp, mechanical. If I were to set

forth what I mean by putting myself into their rectangular attitudes I might

be supposed to caricature more than one exceedingly able northern divine,

and having the fear of this before my eyes, and, moreover, holding these

brethren in supreme respect:. I dare not go into very minute particulars.

Yet it is supposable that these good men are themselves aware that their

legs should not be set down as if they belonged to a linen-horse, or a huge

pair of tongs, and that their arms should not be absolutely rigid like pokers.

Oil for the joints has been suggested, but there appears to be a want of oil

in the limbs themselves, which move up and down as if they belonged to a

machine rather than to a living organism.. Surely any sort of physical

exercise might help to cure this mischief, which in some living preachers

almost amounts to a deformity. On the platform of Exeter Hall, gentlemen

afflicted with unnatural stiffness not only furnish matter for the skillful

caricaturist, but unfortunately call off the attention of their auditors from

their admirable speeches by their execrable action. On a certain occasion

we heard five or six remarks upon the awkwardness of the doctor’s

posturing, and only one or two encomiums upon his excellent speech.

“People should not notice such trifles,” remarks our friend Philo; but

people do notice such trifles whether they ought to do so or not, and

therefore it is well not to display them. It is probable that the whole of this

lecture will be regarded by some very excellent people as beneath their


notice, and savoring of questionable humor, but that I cannot help; for

although I do not set so much value upon action as Demosthenes did when

he made it the first the second, and the third point in oratory, yet it is

certain that much good speech is bereft, of power through the awkward

deportment of the speaker; ant! therefore if I may in any measure redress

the evil I will cheerfully bear the criticism of my more somber brethren. I

am deeply in earnest, however playful my’ remarks may seem to be. These

follies may be best shot at by the light arrows of ridicule, anti therefore I!

employ them, not being of the same mind as those

“Who think all virtue lies in gravity,

And smiles are symptoms of depravity.”

The second form of the grotesque is not unlike the first, and may be best

distinguished as the regular and mechanical. Men in this case move as if

they were not living beings possessed of will and intellect, but as if they

were automatons formed to go through prescribed movements at precise

intervals. At the back of the Tabernacle. a cottager has placed over his

house a kind of vane, in the form of a little soldier, which ]tilts first one

arm and then the other with rather an important air. It has made me smile

many a time by irresistibly reminding me of — , who alternately jerks each

arm, or if he allows one arm to lie still, chops the other up and down as

persistently as if he; were moved by wind or by clock-work. Up and down,

up and flown the hand goes, turning neither to the right nor to the left,

every other movement being utterly abjured, except this one monotonous

ascent and descent. It matters little how unobjectionable a movement may

be in itself, it will become intolerable if it be continued without variation.

Ludovicus Cresollius, of Brittany, (1620) in his treatise upon the action

and pronunciation of an orator, speaks somewhat strongly of a learned and

polished Parisian preacher, who had aroused his ire by the wearisome

monotony of his action. “When he turned himself to the left he spoke a few

words accompanied by a moderate gesture of the hand, then bending to the

right he acted the same part over again; then back again to the left, and

presently to the right again: almost at an equal and measured interval of

time he worked himself u][:, to his usual gesture, and went through his one

kind of movement. You could compare him only to the blindfolded

Babylonian oxen going forward and turning back by the same path.. I was

so disgusted that I shut my eyes, but even so I could not get over the

disagreeable impression of the speaker’s manner.”


The prevailing House of Commons’ style, so far as I have seen it in public

meetings, consists of an up and down movement of the back and the hand;

one seems to see the M.P. bowing to Mr. Speaker and the honorable house

much as a waiter will do at an eating-house when he is receiving an order

for an elaborate dinner. “Yes sir,” “Yes sir,” “Yes sir,” with a jerk

between each exclamation. The amusing rhyme with its short lines brings

many a parliamentary speaker before my mind’s eye : —

“Mr. Tattat

You must not pat

Your arguments flat

On to the crown of’ another man’s hat.”

This is near akin to what has been accurately described as the pump-handle

style. This is to be witnessed very frequently, and consists of a long series

of jerkings of the arm, meant, perhaps, to increase emphasis, but really

doing nothing whatever. Speakers of this sort; remind us of Moore’s

conundrum, “Why is a pump like Lord. Castlereagh?”

“Because it is a slender thing of wood,

That up and down its awkward arm doth sway,

And coolly spout, and spout, and spout away

In one weak, washy, everlasting flood.”

Occasionally one meets with a saw-like action, in which the arm seems

lengthened and contracted alternately. This motion is carried out to

perfection when the orator leans over the rail, or over the front of the

pulpit, and cuts downward at the people, like the top sawyer operating

upon a piece of timber. One wonders how many planks a man would cut in

the time if he were really working upon wood instead of sawing the air. We

are all grateful for converted sawyers, but we trust they will feel at liberty

to leave their saws behind them.

Much the same may be said for the numerous hammer-men who are at

work among us, who pound and smite at a great rate, to the ruining of

Bibles and the (lusting of pulpit cushions. The predecessors, of these

gentlemen were celebrated by Hudibras in the oft-quoted lines —

“And pulpit drum ecclesiastic,

Was beat with fist instead of a stick.”

Their one and only action is to hammer, hammer, hammer, without sense

or reason, whether the theme, be pleasing or pathetic. They preach with


demonstration and power, but evermore the manifestation: is the same. We

dare not say that they smite with the fist of wickedness, but certainly they

do smite, and that most vigorously. They set forth the sweet influences of

the Pleiades and the gentle wooings of love with blows of the fist; and they

endeavor to make you feel the beauty and the tenderness of their theme by

strokes from their never-ceasing hammer.

Some of them are dull enough in all .conscience, and do not even hammer

with a hearty good will, and then the business becomes intolerable. One

likes to hear a good noise, and see a man go in for hammering vehemently,

if the thing must be done at all; but the gentleman We have in our mind

seldom or never warms to his work, and merely smites because it is the

way of him.

“You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,

With measured beat anti slow.”

If a man must! strike, let him do it in earnest; but there is no need for

perpetual pounding. There are better ways of becoming striking preachers

than by imitating the divine of whom his precentor said that he had dashed

the inwards out of one Bible and was far gone with another. In certain old

Latin MSS. sermons, with notes in the margin, the preacher is

recommended to shake the crucifix, and to hammer upon the pulpit like

Satan himself! By this means he was to collect his thoughts; but one would

not give much for thoughts thus collected. Have any of our friends seen

these manuscripts and fallen in love with the directions? It would seen, so.

Now, the jerking, sawing, pumping, and pounding might all be endurable

and even appropriate if they were blended; but the perpetual iteration of

any one becomes wearisome and unmeaning. The figures of Mandarins in a

tea-shop, continually nodding their heads, and the ladies in wax which

revolve with uniform motions in the hair-dresser’s window, are not fit

models for men who have before them the earnest work of winning men to

grace and virtue. You ought to be so true, so real, so deeply in earnest,

that mere mechanical movements will be impossible to you, and everything

about you will betoken life, energy, concentrated faculty, and intense zeal.

Another method of the grotesque may be correctly called the laborious.

Certain brethren will never fail in their ministry from want of physical

exertion: when they mount the rostrum they mean hard work, and before

long they puff and blow at it as if they were laborers working by the piece.


They enter upon a sermon with the resolve to storm their way through it,

and carry all before them: the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence with

them in another sense besides that which is intended in Scripture. “How is

your new minister getting on?” said an enquiring friend to a rustic hearer.

“Oh,” said the man, “he’s sure to get on, for he drives at sin as i£ he were

knocking down an ox.” An excellent thing to do in spirit, but not to be

performed literally. When I have occasionally heard of a wild brother

taking off his collar and cravat, upon a very hot day, and even of his going

so far as to divest himself of his coat, I have thought that lie was only

putting himself into a condition which the physical-force orator might

desire, for he evidently regards a sermon as a battle or a wrestling match.

An Irish thunderer of my acquaintance broke a chair during a declamation

against Popery, and I trembled for the table also. A distinguished actor,

who became a convert and a preacher late in life, would repeatedly strike

the table or floor with his staff when he grew warm in a speech, tie has,

made me wish to close my ears when the smart raps of his carte have

succeeded each other with great rapidity and growing force. What was the

peculiar use of the noise I could not tell, for we were all awake, and his

‘voice was sufficiently powerful. One did not mind it, however, from the

grand old man, for it suited the “fine frenzy” of his whole-hearted

enthusiasm, but the noise was not so desirable as to be largely called for

from any of us.

Laborious action is frequently a relic of the preacher’s trade in former days

as an old hunter cannot quite forget the hounds, so the good man. cannot

shake off the habits of the shop. One brother who has been a wheelwright

always preaches as if he were making wheels. If you understand the art of

wheelwrighting, you can see most; of the! processes illustrated during one

of his liveliest discourses. ‘You Can detect the engineer in another friend,

the cooper in a third, and the grocer with his scales in a fourth. A brother

who has been a butcher is pretty sure, to show us how to knock down a

bullock when he gets at all argumentative. As I have watched the discourse

proceed from strength to strength, and the preacher has warmed to his

work, I have thought to myself, “Here comes the pole-ax, there goes the

fat ox, down falls the prize bullock..” Now, these reminiscences of former

occupations are never very. blameworthy, and are at all times less

obnoxious than the altogether inexcusable awkwardnesses of gentlemen

who from their youth up have dwelt in the halls of learning. These will

sometimes labor quite as much, but with far less likeness to useful


occupations; they beat, the air and work hard at doing nothing. Gentlemen

from the universities are frequently more hideous in their action than

commonplace people; perhaps their education may have deprived them of

confidence, and. made them all the more fidgety and awkward.

It has occurred to me that some ‘speakers fancy that they are beating

carpets, or chopping; sticks, or mincing sausage-meat, or patting butter, or

poking their fingers into people’s eyes. Oh, could they see themselves as

others see them, they might cease thus to perform before the ]public, and

save their bodily exercise for other occasions.. After all, I prefer the

vigorous, laborious displays to the more easy and even stately airs of

certain self-possessed talkers. One rubs his hands together with abounding


“Washing his hands with invisible soap

In imperceptible water,”

and meanwhile Utters the veriest platitudes with the air of a man who is

outdoing Robert Hall or Chalmers. Another pauses and looks round with a

dignified air, as if he had communicated inestimable information to a highly

favored body of individuals who might reasonably be expected to rise in a

state of intense excitement and express their overwhelming sense of

obligation. Nothing: has been said beyond the merest schoolboy talk; but

the air’ of dignity, the attitude of authority, the very tone of the man, all

show how thoroughly satisfied he is. This is not laborious. preaching, but it

occurs to me to mention it because it is the very reverse, trod is so much

more to be condemned. A few simpleton, are, no doubt, imposed upon,

and fancy that a man must be saying something great when he delivers

himself in a pompous manner ;. but sensible persons are at first amused and

afterwards disgusted with the big manner, “a la grand seigneur.” One of

the great; advantages of our College training is the certainty that an inflated

mannerism is sure to be abated by the amiable eagerness with, which all our

students delight in rescuing a brother from this peril. Many wind-bags have

collapsed in this room beneath your tender handling, never, I hope, to be

puffed out to their former dimensions. There are some in the ministry of all

the churches who would be marvellously benefited by a little of the very

candid if not savage criticisms which have been endured by budding orators

at your hands. I would that every minister who has missed such art

instructive martyrdom could find a friend sufficiently honest to point out to

him any oddities of manner into which he may insensibly have fallen.


But, here we must not overlook another laborious orator who is in our

mind’s eye. We will name him. the perpetual motion preacher, who is all

action, and lifts his finger, or waves his hand, or strikes his palm at every

word. He is never at rest for a moment. So eager is he to be emphatic that

he effectually defeats his object, for where every word is emphasized by a

gesture nothing whatever is emphatic. This brother takes off men’s minds

from. his words to his movements: the eye actually carries the thoughts

away from the ear, and so a second time the preacher’s end is. missed. This

continual motion greatly agitates some hearers, and gives them the fidgets,

and no wonder, for who can endure to see such incessant patting, and

pointing, and waving? In action, as well as everything else, “let your

moderation be known unto all men.”

Thus I have mentioned three species of the grotesque — the stiff, the

mechanical, and the laborious — and I have also glanced at the lazily

dignified. I will close the list by mentioning two others. There is the

martial, which also sufficiently borders on the grotesque to be placed in

this category. Some preachers appear to be fighting the good fight of faith

every time they stand before a congregation. They put themselves into a

fencing attitude, and either stand on guard against an imaginary foe, or else

assault the unseen adversary with stern determination. They could not look

more fierce if they were at the head of a regiment of cavalry, nor seem

more satisfied at the end of each division of discourse if they had fought a

series of Waterloos. They turn their heads on one .side with a triumphant

air, as if about to say — “I have routed that enemy, and we shall hear no

more of him.”

The last singularity of action which I shall place under this head is the illtimed.

In this case the hands do not keep time with the lips. The good

brother is a little behindhand with his action, and therefore the whole

operation is out; of order. You cannot at first make the man out at all: he

appears to chop and thump without rhyme or reason, but at last you

perceive that his present action is quite appropriate to what he said a few

seconds before. ‘The effect is strange to the last degree. It puzzles those

who do not possess the key to it, and when fully understood it loses none

of its oddness.

Besides these oddities, there is a class of action which must, to use the

mildest term, be described as altogether ugly. For these a platform is

“generally necessary,” for a man cannot make himself so thoroughly


ridiculous when concealed in a pulpit. To grasp a rail, and to drop down

lower and lower till you almost touch the ground is supremely absurd. It

may be a proper position as a prelude to an agile gymnastic feat, but as an

accompaniment to eloquence it is monstrous; yet have I seen it more than

once. I have found it difficult to convey to my artist the extraordinary

position, but the woodblock may help to show what is meant, and also to

render the attitude obsolete. One or two brethren have disported

themselves upon my platform in this queer manner, and they are quite

welcome to do the same again, if upon seeing themselves thus roughly

sketched they consider the posture to be commanding and impressive. It

would be far better for such remarkable performers if it were reported of

them as of that great Wesleyan, Richard Watson :: “He stood perfectly

erect, and nearly all the action that he used was a slight motion of the right

hand, with occasionally a significant shake of the head.’“

The habit of shrugging the shoulders has been allowed to tyrannize over

some preachers. A number of men are round-shouldered by nature, and

many more seem determined to appear SO, for when they have anything

weighty to deliver they back themselves up by elevating their backs. An

excellent preacher at Bristol, lately deceased, would hunch first one

shoulder and then another as his great thoughts struggled forth, and when

they Obtained utterance he looked like a hunchback till the effort was over.

What a pity that suck a habit had become inveterate! How desirable to

avoid its formation! Quinctilian says: “Some people raise up their shoulders

in speaking, but this is a fault in gesture. Demosthenes, in order to cure

himself of it, used to stand in a narrow pulpit, and practice speaking with a

spear hanging over his shoulder, in such a manner that if in the heat of

delivery he failed to avoid this fault, he would be corrected by hurting

himself against the point.” This is a sharp remedy, but the gain would be

worth an occasional wound if men who distort the human form could thus

be cured of the fault.

At a public meeting upon one occasion a gentleman who appeared to be

very much at home and to speak with a great deal of familiar superiority,

placed his hands behind him under his coat tails:, and thus produced a very

singular figure, especially to those who took a side view from the platform.

As the speaker became more animated, he moved his tails with greater

frequency, reminding the observer of a water-wagtail. It must be seen to be

appreciated, but one exhibition will be enough to convince any sensible

man that however graceful a dress coat may be, it by no means ministers to


the solemnity of the occasion to see the tails of that garment projecting

from the orator’s rear. You may also have seen at meetings the .gentleman

who places his hands on his hips, and either looks as if he defied all the

world, or as if he endured considerable pain. ‘This position savors of

Billingsgate and its fish-women far more

than of sacred eloquence. The arms “akimbo,” I think they call it, and the

very sound of the word suggests the ridiculous rather than the sublime. We

may drop into it for the moment rightly enough, but to deliver a speech in

that posture is preposterous. It is even worse to stand with your hands in

your trousers like the people one sees at French railway stations, who

probably thrust their hands into their pockets because there is nothing else

there, and nature abhors a vacuum. For a finger in the waistcoat, pocket

for a moment no one will be blamed, but to thrust the hands into the

trousers is outrageous. An utter contempt for audience and subject must

have been felt before a man could .come to this. Gentlemen, because you

are gentlemen, you will never need to be warned of this practice, for you

will not descend to it. Once in a while before a superfinely genteel and

affected audience a man may be tempted to shock their foolish gentility by

a freedom and easiness which is merest to be the protest of a brusque

manliness; but to see a man preach the gospel with his hands in his pockets

does not remind you of either a prophet or an apostle. There are brethren

who do this ever and anon who can afford to do it from their general force

of character: these are the very men who should do nothing of the kind,

because their example is powerful, and they are somewhat responsible for

the weaklings who copy them.

Another unseemly style is nearly allied to the last, though it is not quite so

objectionable. It may be seen at public dinners of the common order, where

white waistcoats need a little extra display, and at gatherings of artisans

where an employer has given his men a treat, and is responding to the toast

of “the firm.” Occasionally it is exhibited at. religious meetings, where the

speaker is a man of local importance, and feels that he is monarch of all he

surveys. In this case the thumbs are inserted in the armholes of the

waistcoat, and the speaker throws back his coat and reveals the lower part

of the vest. I have called this the penguin style, and I am. unable to find. a,

better comparison. For a footman or a coachman at a soiree, or for a

member of the United Order of Queer Fellows, this attitude may be

suitable and dignified, and a venerable sire at a family gathering may talk to

his boys and girls in that position; but for a public speaker, and much more


for a minister, as a general habit, it is as much out of character as a posture

can be.

First cousin to this fashion is that; of holding on to the coat near the collar,

as if the speaker considered it necessary to hold himself well in hand. Some

grasp firmly, and then run the hands up and ,down as if they meant to

double the coat in a new place, or to lengthen the collar. They appear to

hang upon their coat-fronts like a, man clutching at two ropes: one

wonders the garment does not split at the back of the neck. This practice

adds nothing to the force or perspicuity of a speaker’s style, and its

probable signification is, “I am quite at ease, and greatly enjoy hearing my

own voice..”’

As it would be well to stamp out as many uglinesses as possible, I shall

mention oven those which are somewhat rare. I remember an able minister

who was accustomed to look into the palm of his left hand while with his

right he appeared to pick out his ideas therefrom,. Divisions, illustrations,

dud telling points all seemed to be growing in his palm like so many

flowers; and these he seemed carefully to take up by the roots one by one

and exhibit to the people. It mattered little, for his thought was of a high

order of excellence, but yet the action was ‘by no means graceful.

A preacher of no mean order was wont to lift his fist to his brow and to tap

his forehead gently, as if he must needs knock at the mind’s door to wake

up his; thoughts: this also was more peculiar than forcible.

To point into the left hand with the first finger of the right as if boring

small holes into it, or to use the aforesaid pointed finger as if you were

stabbing the air, is another freak of action which has its amusing side.

Passing the hand over tile brow when the thought is deep, and the exact

word is not easy to find, is a very natural motion, but scratching the head is

by no means equally advisable, though perhaps quite as natural. I have seen

this last piece of action carried to considerable lengths, but I was never

enamored of it.

I cannot avoid mentioning an accidental grotesqueness which is

exceedingly common. Some brethren always lay down the law with an

outspread hand, which they continue to move up and down with the

rhythm of every sentence. Now this action is excellent in its way if not

,carried on tot, monotonously, but unfortunately it is liable to accidents. If

the earnest orator continues to lift his hand upward and downward he is in


great danger of frequently presenting the aspect which my artist has

depicted. The action verges upon the symbolic, but unhappily the symbol

has been somewhat vulgarized, and has been. described as “putting the

thumb of scorn to the nose of contempt.” ‘Some men unwittingly

perpetrate this a score times. during a discourse.

You have laughed at these portraits which I have drawn for your

edification — take care that no one has to laugh at you because; you fall

into these or similar absurdities of action.

I must confess, however, that I do not think so badly of any of these, or all

of them put together, as I do of the superfine style, which is utterly

despicable and abominable. It is worse than the commonly vulgar, for it is

the very essence of vulgarity, flavored with affectations and airs of

gentility. Rowland Hill sketched the thing which I condemn in his portrait

of Mr. Taplash; of course it was a more correct representation as to detail

fifty years ago than it is now, but in the main features it is still sufficiently

accurate: “The orator, when he first made his appearance, would be

primmed and dressed up in the most finished style; not a hair would, be

found out of place on his empty pate, on which the barber had been

exercising his occupation all the Sunday morning, and powdered till as

white as the driven snow. Thus elegantly decorated, and smelling like a

civet-cat, through an abundance of’ perfumery, he would scent the air as he

passed. Then, with a most conceited skip, he would step into the pulpit, as

though stepping out of a band-box; and here he had not only to display his

elegant production, but his elegant self also: his delicate white hand,

exhibiting his diamond ring, while his richly-scented white handkerchief

was unfurled, and managed with remarkable dexterity and art. His

smelling-bottle was next occasionally presented to his nose, giving different

opportunities to display his sparkling ring. Thus having adjusted the im-

2optant business of the handkerchief and the smelling-bottle, he had next

to take out his glass, that he might reconnoiter the fair part of his auditory,

with whom he might have been gallanting and entertaining them with his

cheap talk the day before: and these, as soon as he could catch their eye, he

would favor with a simpering look, and a graceful nod.”

This is a pungent prose version of Cowper’s review of certain “messengers

of grace” who “relapsed into themselves” when the sermon was ended:

very little selves they must have been.


“Forth comes the pocket mirror. First we stroke

An eyebrow; next; compose a straggling lock;

Then with an air, most gracefully performed,

fall back into our seat, extend an arm

And lay it at its ease with gentle care,

With handkerchief in hand depending low.

The better hand more busy gives the nose

Its bergamot, or aids the indebted eye,

With opera glass, to watch the moving scene,

And recognize the slow retiring fair. —

Now this is fulsome, and offends me more

Than in a churchman slovenly neglect

And rustic coarseness would.”

“Rustic coarseness” is quite refreshing after one has been wearied with

inane primness. Well did Cicero exhort orators to adopt their gestures

rather from the camp or the wrestling ring than from the dancers with their

effeminate niceties. Manliness must never be sacrificed to elegance. Our

working classes will never be brought even to consider the truth of

Christianity by teachers who are starched and fine. The British artisan

admires manliness, and prefers to lend his ear to one who speaks in a

hearty and natural style: indeed, working men of all nations are more likely

to be struck by a brave negligence than by a foppish attention to personal

appearances. The story told by the Abbe Mullois is, we suspect, only one

of a numerous class. F6 “A converted Parisian operative, a man of a willful

but frank disposition, full of energy and spirit, who had often spoken with

great success at the clubs composed of men of his own class, was asked by

the preacher who had led him to God, to inform him by what

instrumentality he, who had once been so far estranged from religion, had

eventually been restored to the faith. “Your doing so,” said Iris

interrogator, “may be useful to me in my efforts to reclaim others.”

“I would rather not,” replied he, “for I must candidly tell you that you do

not figure very conspicuously in the case.”

“No matter,” said the other, “it will not be the first time that I have heard

‘the same remark.”

“Well, if you must hear it, I can tell you in a few words how it took place.

A good woman had pestered me to read your little book — pardon the

expression, I used to speak in that style in those days. On reading a few

pages, I was so impressed that I felt; a strong desire to see you.


“I was told that you preached in a certain church, and I went to hear you.

Your sermon had some further effect upon me; but, to speak frankly, very

little; comparatively, indeed, none at all. What did much more for me was

your open, and simple, and good-natured manner, and, above all, your illcombed

hair; for I have always detested those priests whose heads remind

one of a hairdresser’s assistant; and I said to myself, ‘ That man forgets

himself on our behalf, we ,ought, therefore, to do something for his sake.’

Thereupon I determined to pay you a visit, and you bagged me. Such wets

the beginning and end of the affair.”

There are silly young ladies who are in raptures with a dear young man

whose main thought is his precious person; these, it is to be hoped are

becoming fewer every day: but as for sensible men, and especially the

sturdy workmen of our great cities, they utterly abhor foppery in a

minister. Wherever you see affectation you find at once a barrier between

that man and the commonsense multitude. Few ears are delighted with the

voices of peacocks.

It is a pity that we cannot persuade all ministers to be men, for it is hard to

see how otherwise they will be truly men of God. It is equally to be

deplored that we cannot induce preachers to speak and gesticulate like

other sensible persons, for it is impossible that they should grasp the

masses till they do. All foreign matters of attitude, tone, or dress are

barricades between us and the people: we must talk like men if we would

win men. The late revival of millinery in the Anglican Church is for this

reason, as well as; for far graver ones, a step in the wrong direction. A

hundred years ago the dressiness of the clergy was about as conspicuous as

it is now, but it had no doctrinal meaning, and was mere foppery, if Lloyd

is to be believed in his “Metrical Plea for Curates.”’

He abuses rectors very heartily, and among the rest describes a canonical

beau : —


“Behold Nugoso! wriggling, shuffling on,

A. mere church-puppet, an automaton

In orders: note its tripping, mincing pace,

Religion creams and mantles in its face!

It’s all religion from the top to toe!

But milliners and barbers made it so.

It wears religion in the modish way,

It; brushes, starches, combs it every day:

Its orthodoxy lies in outward things,

In beavers, cassocks, gowns, bands, gloves, and rings:

It shows its learning by its doctor’s hood,

And proves its goodness, — ‘cause its clothes are good.”

This fondness for comely array led to a stiff propriety in the pulpit: they

called it “dignity,” and prided themselves upon it. Propriety and decorum

were their chief concern, and these were mingled with pomposity or foolish

simpering according to the creature’s peculiarities, until honest men grew

weary of their hollow performances and turned away from such stilted

ministrations. The preachers were too much concerned to be proper to

have any con-tern to be useful. The gestures which would have made their

words a little more intelligible they would not condescend to use, for what

cared they for the vulgar? If persons of taste were satisfied, they had all the

reward they desired, and meanwhile the multitudes were perishing for lack

of knowledge. God save us from fine deportment and genteel propriety if

these are to keep the masses in alienation from the public worship of God.

In our own day this sickening affectation is, we hope, far more rare, but it

still survives. We had the honor of knowing a minister who could not

preach without his black kid gloves, and when he upon one occasion found

himself in a certain pulpit without them, he Came down into the vestry for

them. Unfortunately one of the deacons had carried into his pew, not his

own hat, as he intended, but the preacher’s, and while this discovery was

being made, the divine was in terrible trepidation, exclaiming, “I never do

preach without gloves. I cannot do it. I cannot go into the pulpit till you

find them.” I wish he never had found them, for he was more fitted to stand

behind a draper’s counter than to occupy the sacred desk. Slovenliness of

any sort is to be avoided in a minister, but manliness more often falls into

this fault than into the other effeminate vice; therefore shun most heartily

this worst error. Cowper says,

“In my soul I loathe all affectation,”


and so does every sensible man. All tricks and stage effects are unbearable

when the message of the Lord is to be delivered. Better a ragged dress and

rugged speech, with artless, honest manner, than clerical foppery. Better

far to violate every canon of gracefulness than to be a mere performer, a

consummate actor, a player upon a religious stage. The caricaturist of

twenty years ago favored me with the name of Brimstone, and placed side

by side with me a simpering elocutionist whom he named Treacle. I was

thoroughly satisfied with my lot, but I could not have said as much if I had

been represented by the companion portrait. Molasses and other sugary

matters are sickening to me. Jack-a-dandy in the pulpit makes me feel as

Jehu did when he saw Jezebel’s decorated head and painted face, and cried

in indignation, “Fling her down”

It would greatly trouble me if any of my remarks upon grotesque action

should lead even one of you to commence posturing and performing; this

would be to fly from bad to worse. We mentioned that Dr. Hamilton took

lessons from a master, in order to escape from his infirmity, but the result

was manifestly not very encouraging, and I gravely fear that more faults

are created than cured by professional teachers: perhaps the same result

may follow front my own amateur attempt, but I would at least prevent

that misfortune as far as possible by earnest warnings. Do not think of how

you will gesticulate when you preach, but learn the art of doing the right

thing without giving it any thought at all.

Our last rule is one which sums up all the others; be natural in your action.

Shun the very appearance of studied gesture. Art is cold, only nature is

warm; let grace keep you clear of all seeming,, and in every action, and in

every place, be truthful, even if you should be considered rough and

uncultivated. Your mannerism must always be your own, it must never be a

polished lie, and what is the aping of gentility, the simulation of passion,

the feigning of emotion, or the mimicry of another man’s mode of delivery’

but a practical lie.

“Therefore, avaunt all attitude and stare,

And start theatric, practiced at the glass!”

Our object is ‘to remove the excrescences of uncouth nature, not to

produce artificiality and affectation; we would prune the tree and by no

means clip it into a set form. We would have our students think: of’ action

while they are with us at college, that they may never have need to think of

it in after days. The matter is too inconsiderable to be made a part of your


weekly study when you get into the actual battle of ministerial life; you

must attend to the subject now, and have done with it. You are not sent of

God to court smiles but to win souls; your teacher is not the dancingmaster,

but the Holy Spirit, and your pulpit manner is only worth a

moment’s thought because it may hinder your success by causing people to

make remarks about the preacher when you want all their thought’3 for the

subject. If the best action had this effect I would urge you to forswear it,

and if the worst gestures would prevent such a result I would advise you to

practice them. All that I aim at is to advocate quiet, graceful, natural

movements, because they are the least likely to be observed. The whole

business of delivery should be one; everything should harmonize; the

thought, the spirit, the language, the tone, and the action should be all of a

piece, and the whole should be, not for the winning of honor to ourselves,

but for the glory of God and the good of men; if it be so there is no fear of

your violating the rule as to being natural, for it will not occur to you to be

otherwise. Yet have I one fear, and it is this: you may fall into a foolish

imitation of some admired minister, and this will to some extent put you off

from the right track. Each man’s action should suit himself and grow out of

his own personality. The style of Dr. Goliath, who is six feet high, will not

fit the stature and person of our friend Short who is a Zaccheus among

preachers; neither will the respectable mannerism of an aged and honored

divine at all befit the youthful Apollos who is barely out of his teens. I have

heard that for a season quite a number of young Congregational ministers

imitated the pastor of the Weigh House, and So there were little Binneys

everywhere copying the great Thomas in everything except his thoughtful

preaching. A rumor is current that there are one or two young Spurgeons

about, but if so I hope that the reference is to my own sons, who have a

right to the name by birth. If any of you become mere copyists of me I shall

regard you as thorns in the flesh, and rank you among those whom Paul

says “we suffer gladly.” Yet it has been wisely said that every beginner

must of necessity be for a time a copyist; the artist follows his master while

as yet he has barely acquired the elements of the art, and perhaps for life he

remains a painter of the school to which he at first, attached himself; but as

he becomes Proficient he develops his own individuality, grows into a

painter witch a style of his own, and is all the better and none the worse for

having been in his earliest days content to sit at a master’s feet. It is of

necessity the same in oratory, and therefore it may be too much to say

never copy anyone, but it may be better to exhort you to imitate the best

action you can. find, in order that your own style during its formation may


be rightly moulded. Correct ‘the. influence of any one man by what you see

of excellence in others; but still create a manner of your’ own. Slavish

imitation is the practice of an ape, but to follow another where, he leads

aright, and there only, is the wisdom of a, prudent man. Still never let a

natural originality be missed by your imitating the best models of antiquity,

or the most esteemed among the moderns.

In conclusion, do not allow’ my criticisms upon various grotesque postures

and movements to haunt you in the pulpit; better perpetrate them all than

be in fear, for this would make you cramped and awkward. Dash at. it

whether you blunder or no. A few mistakes in this matter will not be half

so bad as being nervous. It may be that what would be eccentric in another

may be most proper in you; therefore take no man’s dictum as applicable to

every case, or to your own. See how John Knox is pictured in the well

known engraving. Is his posture graceful? Perhaps not. Yet is it not exactly

what it should be? Can you find any fault with it? Is it not Knox-like, and

full of power? It would not suit one man in fifty; in most preachers it would

seem Strained, but in the great Reformer it is characteristic, and accords

with his life-work. You must remember the person, the times and his

surroundings, and then the mannerism is seen to be well becoming a heropreacher

sent, to do an Elijah’s work, and to utter his rebukes in the

presence of a Popish court which hated the reforms which he demanded.

Be yourself as lie was himself; even if you should be ungainly and

awkward, be yourself. Your own clothes, though they be homespun, will

fit you better than another man’s, though made of the best broadcloth; you

may follow your tutor’s style of dress if you like, but do not borrow his

coat, be content to wear one of your own. Above all, be so full of matter,

so fervent, and so gracious that the people will little care how you hand out

the word; for if they perceive that it is fresh from heaven, and find it sweet

and abundant, they will pay little regard to the basket in which you bring it

to them. Let them, if they please, say that your bodily presence is weak, but

pray that they may confess that your testimony is weighty and powerful.

Commend yourself to every’ man’s conscience in’ the sight of God, and

then the mere mint and anise Of posture will seldom be taken into account.

While; preparing this lecture it occurred to me to copy a plate which I

found in Austin’s Chironomia, in the hope that it may afford, some

direction to young speakers. As my lecture mainly shows how not, to do it,

this may be a little help in the positive direction.. Of course I do not

recommend that so much action should be used in reciting this one piece,


or any other; but I would suggest that each posture should be considered

apart. Most of the attitudes are natural, striking, and instructive. I do not

admire them all, for they are here and there a little forced, but as a whole I

know of no better’ lesson in so short a compass, and being in verse the

words will be the more easily remembered.

Considerable expense has been incurred in producing these plates and the

wood-engravings of the, previous lectures, and therefore the present

volume of lectures is a few pages shorter than its predecessor; but anxiety

to do the thing thoroughly for the good of my younger brethren has led me

to insert what I earnestly hope will be of some slight service to them. Often

a mere hint is sufficient. Wise men from one example learn all, and I trust

that the following illustrations may suffice to give to many beginners the

clue o proper and expressive attitude and gesture.





IF I were asked — What in a Christian minister is the most essential quality

for securing success in winning souls for Christ? I should reply,

“earnestness”: and if I were asked a second or a third time, I should not

vary the answer, for personal observation drives me to the conclusion that,

as a rule, real success is proportionate to the preacher’s earnestness. Both

great men and little men succeed if they are thoroughly alive unto God, and

fail if they are not so. We know men of eminence who have gained a high

reputation, who attract large audiences, and obtain much admiration, who

nevertheless are very low in the ..scale as soul-winners: for all they do in

that direction they might as well have been lecturers on anatomy, or

political orators. At the same time we have seen their compeers in ability so

useful in the business of conversion that evidently their acquirements and

gifts have been no hindrance to them, lint the reverse; for by the intense

and devout use of their powers, and by the; anointing of the Holy Spirit,

they have turned many to righteousness. We have seen brethren of very

scanty abilities who have been terrible drags upon a church, and have

proved as inefficient in their spheres as blind men in an observatory; but, on

the other hand, men of equally small attainments are well known, to us as

mighty hunters before the Lord, by whose holy energy many hearts have

been captured for the Savior. I delight in M’Cheyne’s remark, “It is not so

much great talents that God blesses, as great likeness to Christ.” In many

instances ministerial success is traceable almost entirely to an intense zeal,

a consuming passion for souls, and an eager enthusiasm in the cause of

God, and we believe that in every case, other things being equal, men

prosper in the divine service in proportion as their hearts are blazing with

holy love. “The God that answereth by fire, let him be God “; and the man

who has the tongue of fire, let him be God’s minister.

Brethren, you and I must, as preachers, be always earnest in reference to

our pulpit work. Here we must labor to attain tile very highest degree of

excellence. Often. have I said to my brethren that the pulpit is the


Thermopylae of Christendom: there the fight will be lost or won. To us

ministers the maintenance of our power in the pulpit should be our great

concern, we must occupy that spiritual watch-tower with our hearts and

minds awake and in full vigor. It will not avail us to be laborious pastors if

we are not earnest: preachers. We shall be forgiven a great many sins in the

matter of pastoral visitation if the people’s souls are really fed on the

Sabbath-day; but fed they must be, and nothing else will make up for it.

The failures of most ministers who drift down the stream may be traced to

inefficiency in the pulpit. The chief business of a captain is to know how to

handle his vessel, nothing can compensate for deficiency there, and so our

pulpits must be our main care, or all will go awry. Dogs often fight because

the supply of bones is scanty, and congregations frequently quarrel because

they do not get sufficient spiritual meat to keep them happy and peaceful.

The ostensible ground of dissatisfaction may be something else, but nine

times out of ten deficiency in their rations is at the bottom of the mutinies

which occur in our churches. Men, like all other animals, know when they

are fed, and they usually feel good tempered after a meal; and so when our

hearers come to the house of God, and obtain “food convenient for them,”

they forget a great many grievances in the joy of the festival, but if we send

them away hungry they will be in as irritable a mood as a bear robbed of

her whelps.

Now, in order that we may be acceptable, we must be earnest when

actually engaged in preaching. Cecil has well said that the spirit and

manner of a preacher often effect more than his matter. To go into the

pulpit with the listless air of those gentlemen who loll about, and lean upon

the cushion as if they had at last reached a quiet resting place, is, I think,

most censurable. To rise before the people to deal out commonplaces

which have cost you nothing, as if anything would do for a sermon, is not

merely derogatory to the dignity of our office, but; is offensive in the sight

of God. We must ‘be earnest in the pulpit for our own sakes, for we shall

not long be able to maintain our position as leaders in the church of God if

we are dull. Moreover, for the sake of our church members, and converted

people, we must be energetic, for if we are not zealous, neither will they

be. It is not in the order of nature that rivers should run uphill, and it does

not often happen that zeal rises from the pew to the pulpit. It is natural that

it should flow down from us to our hearers; the pulpit must therefore stand

at a high level of ardor, if we are, under God, to make and to keep our

people fervent. Those who attend our ministry have a .great deal to do


during the week. Many of them have family trials, and heavy personal

burdens to carry, and they frequently come into the assembly cold and

listless, with thoughts wandering hither and thither; it is ours to take those

thoughts .and thrust; them into the furnace of our own earnestness, melt

them by holy contemplation and by intense appeal, and pour them out into

the mold of the truth. A blacksmith can do nothing when his fire is out and

in this respect he is the type of a minister. If all the lights in the outside

world are quenched, the lamp which burns in the sanctuary ought still to

remain undimmed; for that fire no curfew must ever be rung. We must

regard the people as the wood and the sacrifice, well wetted a second and a

third time by the cares ¢f the week, upon which, like the prophet, we must

pray down the fire from heaven. A dull minister creates a dull audience.

You cannot expect the office-bearers and the members of the church to

travel by steam if their own chosen pastor still drives the old broadwheeled

wagon. We ought each one to be like that reformer who is described as

“Vividus vultus, vividi occuli, vividae manus, denique omnia vivida,”

which I would rather freely render — ” a. countenance beaming with life,

eyes and hands full of life, in fine, a vivid preacher, altogether alive.”

“Thy soul must overflow, if thou

Another’s soul would reach,

It needs the overflow of heart

To give the lips full speech.”

The world also will suffer as well as the church if we are not fervent. ‘We

cannot expect a gospel devoid of earnestness to have any mighty effect

upon the unconverted around us. One of the excuses most soporific to the

conscience of an ungodly generation is that of half-heartedness in the

preacher. If the sinner finds the preacher nodding while he talks of

judgment to come, he concludes that the judgment is a thing which the

preacher is dreaming about, and he resolves to regard it all as mere fiction.

‘The whole outside world receives serious danger from the cold-hearted

preacher, for it draws the same conclusion as the individual sinner: it

perseveres in its own listlessness, it gives its strength to its own transient

objects, and thinks itself wise for so doing. How can it be otherwise? If the

prophet leaves his heart behind hint when he professes to speak in the name

of God, what can he expect but that the ungodly around him will persuade

themselves that there is nothing in his message, and that his commission is

a farce.


Hear how Whitefield preached, and never dare to be lethargic again.

Winter says of him that “sometimes he exceedingly wept, and was

frequently so overcome, that for a few seconds you would suspect he never

would recover; and when he did, nature required some little time to

compose herself. I hardly ever knew him go through a sermon without

weeping more or less. His voice was often interrupted by his affections;

and I have heard him say in tile pulpit,’ You blame me for weeping; but

how can I help it, when you will not weep for yourselves, although your

own immortal souls are on the verge of destruction, and, for aught I know,

you are, hearing your last sermon, and may never more have an

opportunity to have Christ, offered to you?”

Earnestness in the pulpit must be real. It is not to be mimicked. We have

seen it counterfeited, but every person with a grain of sense .could detect

the imposition. To stamp the foot, to smite the desk, to perspire, to shout,

to bawl, to quote the pathetic portions of other people’s sermons, or to

pour out voluntary tears from a watery eye will never make up for true

agony of soul and real tenderness of spirit. The best piece of acting is but

acting; those who only look at appearances may be pleased by it, bat lovers

of reality will be disgusted. What presumption! — what hypocrisy it is by

skillful management of the voice to mimic the passion which is the genuine

work of the Holy Ghost. Let mere actors beware, lest they be found

sinning against the Holy Spirit by their theatrical performances. We must

be earnest in the pulpit because we are earnest everywhere; we must blaze

in our discourses because we are continually on fire. Zeal which is stored

up to be let off only on grand occasions is a gas which will one day destroy

its proprietor. Nothing but truth may appear in the house of the Lord; all

affectation is strange fire, and excites the indignation of the God of truth.

Be earnest, and you will seem to be earnest. A burning heart will soon find

for itself a flaming tongue. To sham earnestness is one of the most

contemptible of dodges for courting popularity; let us abhor the very

thought. Go and be listless in the pulpit if you are so in your heart. Be slow

in speech, drawling in tone, and monotonous in voice, if so you can best

express your soul; even that would be infinitely better than to make your

ministry a masquerade and yourself an actor.

But our zeal while in the act of preaching must be followed up by intense

solicitude as to the after results; for if it be not so we shall have cause to

question our sincerity. God will not send a harvest of seals to those who

never watch or water the fields which they have sown. ‘When the sermon


is over we have only let down the net which afterwards we are to draw to

shore by prayer and watchfulness. Here, I think, I cannot do better than

allow a far abler advocate to plead with you, and quote the words of Dr.

Watts : — ”Be very solicitous about the success of your labors in the

pulpit. Water the seed sown, not only with public, but secret prayer. Plead

with God importunately that he would not suffer you to labor in vain. Be

not like that foolish bird the ostrich, which lays her eggs in the dust, and

leaves them there regardless whether they come to life or not. (Job 39:14-

17). God hath not given her understanding, but let not this folly be your

character or practice ;; labor, and watch, and pray, that }’our sermons and

the fruit of your studies may become words of Divine life to souls.

It is an observation of pious Mr. Baxter (which I have read somewhere in

his works), that he has never known any considerable success from the

brightest and noblest talents, nor from the most excellent kind of

preaching, nor even when the preachers themselves have been truly

religious, if they have not had a solicitous concern for the success of their

ministrations. Let the awful and important thought of souls being saved by

our preaching, or left to perish and to be condemned to hell through our

negligence, — I say, let this awful and! tremendous thought dwell ewer

upon our spirits. We are made watchmen to the house of Israel, as Ezekiel

was; and, if we give no warning of approaching danger, the souls of

multitudes may perish through our neglect; but the blood of souls will be

terribly required at our hands (Ezekiel 3:17, etc.).”

Such considerations should make us instant in season and out of season,

and cause us at all times to be clad with zeal as with a cloak. We ought to

be all alive, and always alive. A pillar of light and fire should be the

preacher’s fit emblem. Our ministry must be emphatic, or it will never

affect these thoughtless times; and to this end our hearts must be habitually

fervent, and our whole nature must be fired with an all-consuming passion

for the glory of God and the good of men.

Now, my brethren, it is sadly true that holy earnestness when we once

obtain it may be easily damped; and as a matter of fact it is more frequently

chilled in the loneliness of a village pastorate than amid the society of

warm-hearted Christian brethren. Adam, the author of “Private Thoughts,”

once observed that-“ a poor country parson, fighting against the devil in his

parish, has nobler ideas than Alexander the Great ever had;” and I will add,

that he needs more than Alexander’s ardor to enable him to continue


victorious in his holy warfare. Sleepy Hollow and Dormer’s Land will be

too much for us unless we pray for daily quickening.

Yet town life has its dangers too, and zeal is apt to burn low through

numerous engagements, like a fire which is scattered abroad instead of

being raked together into a heap. Those incessant knocks at Our door, and

perpetual visits from idle persons, are so many buckets of cold water

thrown upon our devout zeal. We must by some means secure

uninterrupted meditation, or we shall lose power. London is a peculiarly

trying sphere on this account.

Zeal also is more quickly checked after long years of continuance in the[

same service than when novelty gives a charm to our work. Mr. Wesley

says, in his fifteenth volume of “Journals and Letters,” “I know that, were I

myself to preach one whole year in one place, I should preach both myself

and most of my congregation asleep.” What then must it be to abide in the

same pulpit for many years! In such a case it is not the pace that kills, but

the length of the race. Our God is evermore the same, enduring for ever,

and he alone can enable us to endure even to the end. He, who at the end

o¥ twenty years’ ministry among the same people is more alive than ever,

is a great debtor to the quickening Spirit.

Earnestness may be, and too often is, diminished by neglect of study. If we

have not exercised ourselves in the word of God, we shall not preach with

the fervor and grace of the man who has fed upon the truth he delivers, and

is therefore strong and ardent. An Englishman’s earnestness in battle

depends, according to some authorities, upon his being well fed: he has no

stomach for the fight if he is starved. If we are well nourished by sound

gospel food we shall be vigorous and fervent. An old blunt commander at

Cadiz is described by Selden as thus addressing his soldiers : — ”What a

shame will it be, you Englishmen, who feed upon good beef and beer, to let

these rascally Spaniards beat you that eat nothing but oranges and

lemons!” His philosophy and mine agree: he expected courage and valor

from those who were well nourished. Brethren, never neglect your spiritual

meals, or you will lack stamina and your spirits will sink. Live on the

substantial doctrines of grace, and you will outlive and out-work those

who delight in the pastry and syllabubs of “modern thought.”

Zeal may, on the other hand, be damped by our studies. There is, no,

doubt, such a thing as feeding the brain at the expense of the heart, and

many a man in his aspirations to be literary has rather qualified himself to


write reviews than to preach sermons. A quaint: evangelist was wont to say

that Christ hung crucified beneath Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. It ought not

to be so, but it has often happened that the student in college has gathered

fuel, but lost the fire which is to kindle it. It will be to our everlasting

disgrace if we bury our flame ‘beneath the faggots which are intended to

sustain it. If we degenerate into bookworms it will be to the old serpent’s

delight, and to our own misery.

True earnestness may be greatly lessened by levity in conversation, and

especially by jesting with brother ministers, in whose company we often

take greater liberties than we would like to do in the society of other

Christians. There are excellent reasons for our feeling at home with our

brethren, but if this freedom be carried too far we shall soon feel that we

have suffered damage through vanity of speech. Cheerfulness is one thing,

and frivolity is another; he is a wise man who by a serious happiness of

conversation steers between the dark rocks of moroseness, and the

quicksands of levity.

We shall often find ourselves in danger of being deteriorated in zeal by the

cold Christian people with whom we come in contact. What terrible wet

blankets some professors are! Their remarks after a sermon are enough to

stagger you. You think that surely you hive moved the very stones to

feeling, but you painfully learn that these people are utterly unaffected.

You have been burning and they are freezing; you have been pleading as

for life or death and they have been calculating how many seconds the

sermon occupied, and grudging you the odd five minutes beyond the usual

hour, width your earnestness compelled you to occupy in pleading with

men’s souls. If these frost-bitten men should happen to be the others of the

church, from whom you naturally expect the warmest sympathy, the result

is chilling to the last degree, and all the more so if you are young and

inexperienced: it is as though an angel were confined in an iceberg. “Thou

shalt not yoke the ox and the ass together” was a merciful precept: but

when a laborious, ox-like minister comes to be yoked to a deacon who is

not another ox, it becomes hard work to plough. Some crabbed professor,

I have a great deal to answer for in this matter. One of them not so very

long ago went up to an earnest young evangelist who had been doing his

best, and said, “Young man, do you call that preaching?” He thought

himself faithful, but he was cruel and uncourteous, and though the good

brother survived the blow it was none the less brutal. Such offenses against


the Lord’s little ones are, I hope, very rare, lint they are very grievous, and

tend to turn aside our hopeful youth.

Frequently the audience itself, as a whole, will damp your zeal. You can

see by their very look and manner that the people are not appreciating your

warm-.hearted endeavors, and you feel discouraged. Those empty benches

also are a serious trial, and if the place be large, and the congregation

small, the influence is seriously depressing: it is not every man who can

bear to be “a voice crying in the wilderness.” Disorder in the congregation

also sadly afflicts sensitive speakers. The walking up the aisle of a woman

with a pair of pattens, the squeak of a pair of new boots, the frequent fall

of umbrellas and walking-sticks, the crying of infants, and especially the

consistent lateness of half the assembly ; — all these tend to irritate the

mind, take it off from its object, and diminish its ardor. We hardly like to

confess that our hearts are so readily affected by such trifles, but it is so,

and not at all to be wondered at. As pots of the most precious ointment are

more often spoilt by dead flies than by dead camels, so Insignificant

matters will destroy earnestness more readily than greater annoyances.

Under a great discouragement a man pulls himself together, and then

throws himself upon his God, and receives divine strength :: but under

lesser depressions he may possibly worry, and the trifle will irritate and

fester till serious consequences follow.

Pardon my saying that the condition of your body must be attended to,

especially in the matter of eating, for any measure of excess may injure

your digestion and make you stupid when you should be fervent. From the

memoir of Duncan Matheson I cull an anecdote which is much to the point:

“In a certain place where evangelistic meetings were being held, the lay

preachers, among whom was Mr. Matheson, were sumptuously entertained

at the house of a Christian gentleman. After dinner they went to the

meeting, not without some difference of opinion as to the best method of

conducting the services of the evening. ‘ The Spirit is grieved; he is not

here at all, I feel it,” said one of the younger, with a whine which

somewhat contrasted with his previous unbounded enjoyment of the

luxuries of the table. ‘ Nonsense,’ replied Matheson, who hated all whining

and morbid spirituality; ‘Nothing of the sort. You have just eaten too much

dinner, and you feel heavy.’“ Duncan Matheson was right, and a little more

of his common sense would be a great gain to some who are ultra spiritual,

and attribute all their moods of feeling to some supernatural cause when

the real reason lies far nearer to hand. Has it not often happened that


dyspepsia has been mistaken for backsliding, and a bad digestion has been

set down as a hard heart? I say no more: a word to the wise is enough.

Many physical and mental causes may operate to create apparent lethargy

where there is at heart intense earnestness. Upon some of us a disturbed

night, a change in the weather, or an unkind remark, will produce the most

lamentable effect. But those who complain of want of zeal are often the

most zealous persons in the world, and a confession of want of life is itself

an argument that life exists, and is not without vigor. Do not spare

yourselves and become self-satisfied; but, on the other hand, do not slander

yourselves and sink into despondency. Your own opinion of yore’ state is

not worth much: ask the Lord to search you.

Long continued labor without visible success is another frequent damp

upon zeal, though if rightly viewed it ought to be an incentive to sevenfold

diligence. Quaint Thomas Fuller observes that · ‘ herein God hath humbled

many painstaking pastors, in making them to be clouds to rain, not over

Arabia the happy, but over Arabia the desert and stony.” If non-success

humbles us it is well, but if it discourages us, and especially if it leads us to

think bitterly of more prosperous brethren, we ought to look about us with

grave concern. It is possible that we, have been faithful and have adopted

wise methods, and are in our right place, and yet we have not struck the

mark; we shall probably be heavily bowed down and feel scarcely able to

continue the work; but if we pluck up courage and increase our earnestness

we shall one day reap a rich harvest, which will more than repay us for all

our waiting. “The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth”;

and with a holy patience begotten of zeal we must wait on, and never

doubt that the time to favor Zion ;will yet come.

Nor must it ever be forgotten that the flesh is weak and naturally inclined

to slumber. We need a constant renewal of the divine impulse which first

started us in the way of service. We are not as arrows, which find their way

to the target by the sole agency of the force with which they started from

tile bow; nor as birds, which bear within themselves their own motive

power: we must be borne onward, like ships at sea, by the constant power

of the heavenly wind, or we shall make no headway. Preachers sent from

God are not musical boxes which, being once wound up.. will play through

their set tunes, but they are trumpets which are utterly mute until the living

breath causes them to give forth a Certain sound. We read of some who

are dumb dogs, given to Slumber, and such would be the character of us all


if the grace of God did not prevent. ‘We have need to watch against; a

careless, indifferent spirit, and if we do not so we shall soon be as

lukewarm as Laodicea itself.

Remembering then, dear brethren, that we must be in earnest, and that we

cannot counterfeit earnestness, or find a substitute for it, and that it is very

easy for us to lose it, let us consider for a while the ways and means for

retaining all our fervor and gaining more. If it is to continue, our

earnestness must be kindled at an immortal flame, and I know of but one

— the flame of the love of Christ, which many waters cannot quench. A

spark from that celestial sun will be as undying as the source from whence

it came. If we can get it, yea, if we have it, we shall still be full of

enthusiasm, however long we may live, however greatly we may be tried,

and however much for many reasons we may’ be discouraged. To continue

fervent for life we must possess the fervor of heavenly life to begin with.

Have we this fire? We must have the truth burnt into our souls, or it will

not burn upon our lips. Do We understand this? The doctrines of grace

must be part and parcel of ourselves, interwoven with the warp and woof

of our being, and this can only be effected by the same hand which

originally made the fabric. We shall never lose our love to Christ ant! our

love to souls if the Lord has given them to us. The Holy Spirit makes zeal

for God to be a permanent principle of life rather than a passion: — does

the Holy Spirit rest upon us, or is our present fervor a mere human feeling?

We ought upon this point to be seriously inquisitorial with our hearts,

pressing home the question, Have we the holy fire which springs from a

true call to the ministry? If not, why are we here? If a man can live without

preaching, let him live without preaching. If a man can be content without

being a soul-winner — -I had almost said he had better not attempt the

work, but I had rather say — let him seek to have the stone taken out of

his heart, that he may feel for perishing mere Till then, as a minister, he

may do positive mischief by occupying the place of one who might have

succeeded in the blessed work in which he must be a failure.

The fire of our earnestness must burn upon the hearth of faith in the truths

which we preach, and faith in their power to bless mankind when the Spirit

applies them to the heart. He who declares what. may or what may not be

true, and what he considers upon the whole to be as good as any other

form of teaching, will of necessity make a very feeble preacher. How can

he be zealous about that which he is not sure of? If he knows nothing of

the inward power of the truth within his own heart, if he has never tasted


and handled of the good word of life, how can he be enthusiastic? But if

the Holy (}host has taught us in secret places, and made our soul to

understand within itself the doctrine which we are to proclaim, then shall

we speak evermore with the tongue of fire. Brother, do not begin to teach

others till the Lord has taught you. It must be dreary work to parrot forth

dogmas which have no interest for your heart, and carry no conviction to

your understanding. I would prefer to pick oakum or turn a crank for my

breakfast, like the paupers in the casual ward, rather than be the slave of a

congregation and bring them spiritual meat of which I never taste myself.

And then how dreadful the end of such a course must be! How fearful the

account to be rendered at the last by one who publicly taught what he did

not heartily believe, and perpetrated this detestable hypocrisy in the name

of God!

Brethren, if the fire is brought from the right place to the right place, we

have a good beginning; and the main elements of a glorious ending.

Kindled by a live coal, borne to our lips from off the altar by the winged

cherub, the fire has begun to feed upon our inmost spirit, and there it will

burn though Satan himself should labor to stamp it out.

Yet the best flame in the world needs renewing. I know not whether

immortal spirits, like the angels, drink on the wing, and feed on stone

superior manna prepared in heaven for them; but the probability is that no

created being, though immortal, is quite free from the necessity to receive

from without sustenance for its strength. Certainly the flame of zeal in the

renewed heart, however divine, must be continually fed with fresh fuel.

Even the lamps of the sanctuary needed oil. Feed the flame, my brother,

feed it frequently; feed it with holy thought and contemplation, especially

with thought about your work, your motives in pursuing it, the design of it,

the helps that are waiting for you, and the grand results of it if the Lord be

with you. Dwell much upon the love of God to sinners, and the death of

Christ on their behalf, and the work of the Spirit upon men’s hearts. Think

of what must be wrought in men’s hearts ere they can be saved.

Remember, you are not; .sent to whiten tombs, but to open them, and this

is a work which no man can perform unless, like the Lord Jesus at the

grave of Lazarus, he groans in spirit; and even then he is powerless apart

from the Holy Ghost. Meditate with deep solemnity upon the fate of the

lost sinner, and, like Abraham, when you get up early to go to the place

where you commune with God, cast an eye towards Sodom and see the

smoke thereof going up like the smoke of a furnace. Shun all views of


future punishment which would make it appear less terrible, and so take off

the edge of your anxiety to save immortals from the quenchless flame. If

men are indeed only a nobler kind of ape, and expire as the beasts, you may

well enough let them die unpitied; but if their creation in the image of God

involves immortality, and there is any fear that through their unbelief they

will bring upon themselves endless woe, arouse yourselves to the agonies

of the occasion, anti be ashamed at the bare suspicion of unconcern. Think

much also of the bliss of the sinner saved, and like holy Baxter derive rich

arguments for earnestness from “the saints’ everlasting rest.” Go to the

heavenly hills and gather fuel there; pile on the glorious logs of the wood

of Lebanon, and the fire will burn freely and yield a sweet perfume as each

piece of choice cedar glows in the flame. There will be no fear of your

being lethargic if you are continually familiar with eternal, realities.

Above all, feed the flame with intimate fellowship with Christ. No! man

was ever cold in heart who lived with Jesus on such terms as ,john and

Mary did of old, for he makes men’s hearts burn within them.! never met

with a half-hearted preacher who was much in communion with the Lord

Jesus. The zeal of God’s house ate up our Lord, and when we come into

contact with him it begins to consume us also, and we feel that we cannot

but speak the things which we have seen and heard in his company, nor can

we help speaking of them with the fervent which comes out of actual

acquaintance with them. Those of us who have been preaching for these

five-and-twenty years sometimes feel that the same work, the same subject,

the same people, and the same pulpit, are together apt to beget a feeling of

monotony, and monotony may soon lead on to weariness. ]But then we

call to mind another sameness, which becomes our complete deliverance;

there is the same Savior, and we may go to him in the same way as we did

at the first, since he is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for

ever.” In his presence we drink in the new wine and renew our youth. He is

the fountain, for ever flowing with the cool, refreshing water of life, and in

fellowship with him we find our souls quickened into perpetual energy.

Beneath his smile our long-accustomed work is always delightful, and

wears a brighter charm than novelty could have conferred. We gather new

manna for our people every morning, and as we go to distribute it we feel

an anointing of fresh oil distilling upon us. “They that wait upon tile Lord

shall renew their strength; they shah mount up with wings as eagles; they

shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Newly

come from the presence of him that walketh among the golden candlesticks


we are ready to write or speak unto the churches in the power which he

alone can give. Soldiers of Christ, you can only be worthy of your Captain

by abiding in fellowship with him, and listening to his voice as Joshua did

when he stood by Jordan, and inquired — ”What saith my Lord unto his


Fan the flame as well as fled it. Fan it with much supplication. We cannot

be too urgent with one another upon this point: no language can be too

vehement with which to implore ministers to pray. There is for our

brethren and ourselves an absolute necessity for prayer. Necessity! — I

hardly like to talk of that, let me rather speak of the deliciousness of prayer

— the wondrous sweetness and divine felicity which come to the soul that

lives in the atmosphere of prayer. John Fox said, “The time we spend with

God in secret is the sweetest time, and the best improved. Therefore, if

thou lovest thy life, be in love with prayer.” The devout Mr. Hervey

resolved on the bed of’ sickness — ” If God shall spare; my life, I will read

less and pray more.” John Cooke, of Maidenhead, wrote — ” The business,

the pleasure, the honor, and advantage of prayer press on my spirit with

increasing force every’ day.” A deceased pastor when drawing near his

end, exclaimed, “I wish I had prayed more;:” that wish many of us might

utter. There should be special seasons for devotion, and it is well to

maintain them with regularity; but the spirit of prayer is even better than

the habit of prayer: to pray without ceasing is better than praying at

intervals. It will be a happy circumstance if we can frequently bow the knee

with devout brethren, and I think it; ought to be a rule with us ministers

never to separate without a word of prayer. Much more intercession would

rise to heaven if we made a point of this, especially those of us who have,

been fellow-students. If it be possible, let prayer and praise sanctify each

meeting of friend with friend. It is a refreshing practice to have a minute or

two of supplication in the vestry before preaching if you can call in three or

four warm-hearted deacons or other brethren. It always nerves me for the

fight. Bat, for all that, to fan your earnestness to a vehement. flame you

should seek the spirit of continual prayer, so as to pray in the Holy Ghost,

everywhere and always; in the study, in the vestry, and in the pulpit. It is

well to be pleading evermore with God, when sitting down in the pulpit,

when rising to .give out the hymn, when reading the chapter, and while

delivering the sermon; holding up one hand to God empty, in order’ to

receive, and with the other hand dispensing to the people what the Lord

bestows. Be in preaching like a conduit pipe between the everlasting and


infinite supplies of heaven and the all but boundless needs of men, and to

do this you must reach heaven, and keep up the communication without a

break. Pray for the people while you preach to them; speak with God for

them while you are speaking with them for God. Only so can you expect to

be continually in earnest. A man does not often rise from his; knees

unearnest; or, if he does, he had better return to prayer till the sacred flame

descends upon his soul. Adam Clarke once said, “Study yourself to death,

and then pray yourself alive again”: it was a wise sentence. Do not attempt

the first without the second; neither dream that the second can be honestly

accomplished without the first. Work and pray, as well as watch and pray;

but; pray always.

Stir the fire also by frequent attempts at fresh service. Shake yourself out

of routine by breaking away from the familiar fields of service and

reclaiming virgin soil. I suggest to you, as a subordinate but very useful

means of keeping the heart fresh, the frequent addition of new work to

your usual engagements. I would say to brethren who are soon going away

from the College, to settle in spheres where they will come into contact

with but few superior minds, and perhaps will be almost alone in the higher

walks of spirituality, — look well to yourselves that you do not become

flat, stale, and unprofitable, and keep yourselves sweet by maintaining an

enterprising spirit. You will have a good share of work to d% and few to

help you in it, and the years will grind along heavily; watch against this,

and use all means to prevent your becoming dull and sleepy, and among

them use that which experience leads me to press upon you. I find it good

for myself to have some new work always on hand. The old and usual

enterprises must be kept up, but somewhat must be added to them. It

should be with us as with the squatters upon our commons, the fence of

our garden must roll outward a foot or two, and enclose a little more of the

common every year. Never say “it is enough/’ nor accept the policy of

“rest and be thankful.” Do all you possibly .can, and then do a little more. I

do not know by what process the gentleman who advertises that he can

make short people taller attempts the task, but I should imagine that if any

result could be produced in the direction of adding a cubit to one’s stature

it would be by every morning reaching up as high as you possibly can on

tiptoe, and, having done that, trying day by day to reach a little higher. This

is certainly the way to grow mentally and spiritually, — ” reaching forth to

that which is before.” If the old should become just a little stale, add fresh

endeavors to it, and the whole mass will be leavened anew. Try it and you


will soon discover the virtue of breaking up fresh ground, invading new

provinces of the enemy, and scaling fresh heights to set the banner of the

Lord thereon. This is, of course, a secondary expedient to those of which

we have already spoken, but still it is a very useful one, and may greatly

benefit you. In a country town, say of two thousand inhabitants, you will,

after a time, feel, “Well, now I have done about all I can. in this place.”

What then? There is a hamlet some four miles off, set about opening room

there. If one hamlet is occupied, make an excursion to another, and spy’

out the land, and set the relief of its spiritual destitution before you as an

ambition. When the first place is supplied, think of a second. It is your

duty, it will also be your safeguard. Everybody knows what interest there is

in fresh work. A gardener will become weary of his toil unless he is

allowed to introduce new flowers into the hothouse, or to cut the beds

upon the lawn it, a novel shape; all monotonous work is unnatural and

wearying to the mind, therefore it is wisdom to give variety to your labor.

Far more weighty is the advice, keep close, to God, and keep close to your

fellow men whom you are seeking to bless. Abide under the shadow of the

Almighty, dwell where Jesus manifests himself, and live in the power of the

Holy Ghost. Your very life lies in this. Whitefield mentions a lad who was

so vividly conscious of the presence of God that he would generally walk

the roads with his hat off. How I wish we were always in such a mood. It

would be no trouble to maintain earnestness then.

Take care, also, to be on most familiar terms with those whose souls are

committed to your care. Stand in the stream and fish. Many preachers are

utterly ignorant as to how the bulk of the people are living; they are at

home among books, but quite at sea among men. What would you think of

a botanist who seldom saw real flowers, or an astronomer who never spent

a night with the stars? Would they be worthy of the name of men of


Neither can a minister of the gospel be anything but a mere empiric unless

he mingles with men, and studies character for himself. “Studies from the

life,” — gentlemen, we must have plenty of these if we are to paint to the

life in our sermons. Read men as well as books, and love men rather than

opinions, or you will be: inanimate preachers.

Get into close quarters with those who are in an anxious state. Watch their

difficulties, their throes and pangs of conscience. It will help to make you

earnest when you see their eagerness to find peace. On the other hand,


when you see how little earnest the bulk of men remain, it may help to

make you more zealous for their arousing. Rejoice with those who are

finding the Savior: this is a grand means of revival for your own soul.

When you are enabled to bring a mourner to Jesus you will feel quite

young again. It will be as oil to your bones to hear a weeping penitent

exclaim, “I see it all now! I believe, and my burden is gone: I am sated.”

Sometimes the rapture of newborn souls will electrify you into apostolic

intensity. Who could not preach after having seen souls converted? Be on

the spot when grace at last captures the ‘.lost sheep, that by sharing in the

Great Shepherd’s rejoicings you may renew your youth. Be in at the death

with sinners, and you will be repaid for the weary chase after them which

it; may be you have followed for months and years. Grasp them with firm

hold of love, and say, “Yes, by the grace of God, I have really won these

souls ;” and your enthusiasm will flame forth.

If you have to labor in a large town I should recommend you to familiarize

yourself, wherever your place of worship may be, with .the poverty,

ignorance, and drunkenness of the place. Go if you can With a City

missionary into the poorest quarter, and you will see that which will

astonish you, and the actual sight of the disease will make you eager to

reveal the remedy. There is enough of evil to be seen even in the best

streets of ore’ great cities, but there is an unnutterable depth of horror in

the condition of the slums. As a doctor walks the hospitals, so ought you

to traverse the lanes and courts to behold the mischief which sin has

wrought. It is enough to make a man weep tears of blood to gaze upon the

desolation which sin has made in the earth. One day with a devoted

missionary would be a fine termination to your College course, and a fit

preparation for work in your own sphere. See the masses living in their

sins, defiled with drinking and Sabbath-breaking, rioting and blaspheming;

and see them dying sodden and hardened, or terrified and despairing: surely

this will rekindle expiring zeal if anything can do it. The world is full of

grinding poverty, and crushing sorrow; shame and death are the portion of

thousands, and it needs a great gospel to meet the dire necessities of men’s

souls. Verily it is so. Do you doubt it? Go and see for yourselves. Thus will

you learn to preach a great salvation, and magnify the great Savior, not

with your mouth only, but with your heart; and thus will you be married to

your work beyond all possibility of deserting it.

Death-beds are grand schools for us. They are intended to act as tonics to

brace us to our work. I have come down from the bed-chambers of the


dying, and thought that everybody was mad, and myself most of all. I have

grudged the earnestness which men devoted to earthly things, and half said

to myself, — Why was that man driving along so hastily? Why was that

woman walking out in such finery? Since they were all to die so soon, I

thought nothing worth their doing but preparing to meet their God. To be

often where men die will help us to teach them both to die and to live.

M’Cheyne was wont to visit his sick or dying hearers on the Saturday

afternoon, for, as he told Dr. James Hamilton, “Before preaching he liked

to look over the verge.”

I pray’ you, moreover, measure your work in the light of God. Are you

God’s servant or not? If you are, how can your heart be colds Are you sent

by a dying Savior to proclaim his love and win the reward of his wounds,

or are you not? If you are, how can you flags. Is the Spirit of God upon

you? Has the Lord anointed you to preach glad tidings to the poor? If he

has not, do not pretend to it. If he has, go in this thy might, and the Lord

shall be thy strength. Yours is not a trade, or a profession. Assuredly if you

measure it by the tradesman’s measure it is the poorest business on the face

of the earth. Consider it as a profession: who would not prefer any other,

so far as golden gains or worldly honors are concerned? But if it be a

divine calling, and you a miracle-worker, dwelling in the supernatural, and

working not for time but for eternity, then you belong to a nobler guild,

and to a higher fraternity than any that spring of earth and deal with time.

Look at it aright;, and you will own that it is a grand, thing to be as poor as

your Lord, if, like him, you may make many rich; you will feel that it is a

glorious thing to be as unknown and despised as were your Lord’s first

followers, because you are making him known, whom to know is life

eternal. You will be satisfied to be anything or to be nothing, and the

thought of self will not enter your mind, or only cross it to be scouted as a

meanness not to be tolerated by a consecrated man. There is the point.

Measure your work as it should be measured, ;and I am not afraid that

your earnestness will be diminished. Gaze upon it by the light of the

judgment day, and in view of the eternal rewards of faithfulness. Oh,

brethren, the present joy of having saved a soul is overwhelmingly

delightful; you have felt it, I trust, and know it now. To save a soul from

going down to perdition brings to us a little heaven below, but what must it

be at the day of judgment to meet spirits redeemed by Christ, who learned

the news of their redemption from our lips! We look forward to a blissful

heaven in communion with our Master, but we shall also know the added


joy of meeting those loved ones whom we led to Jesus by our ministry. Let

us endure every cross, and despise all shame, for the joy which Jesus sets

before us of winning men for him.

One more thought may help to keep up our earnestness. Consider the great

evil which will certainly come upon us and upon our hearers if we be

negligent in our work. “They shall perish” — is not that a dreadful

sentence? It is to me quite as awful as that which follows it, — ”but their

blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” How shall we describe the

doom of an unfaithful minister? And every unearnest minister is unfaithful.

I would infinitely prefer to be consigned to Tophet as a murderer of men’s

bodies than as a destroyer of men’s souls; neither do I know of any

condition in which a man can perish so fatally, so infinitely, as in that of the

man who preaches a gospel which he does not believe, and assumes the

office of pastor over a people whose good he does not intensely desire. Let

us pray to be found faithful always, and ever. God grant that the Holy

Spirit may make and keep us so.




HAVING often said in this room that a minister ought to have one blind eye

and one deaf ear, I have excited the curiosity of several brethren, who have

requested an explanation; for it appears to them, as it does also to me, that

the keener eyes and ears we have the better. Well, gentlemen, since the text

is some. what mysterious, you shall have the exegesis of it.

A part of my meaning is expressed in plain language by Solomon, in the

book of Ecclesiastes (7:21): “Also take no heed. · auto all words that are

spoken:; lest; thou hear thy servant curse thee.” The margin says, “Give

not thy heart to all words that are spoken ;’ — .do not take them to heart

or let them weigh with you, do not notice them, or act as if you heard

them. You cannot stop people’s tongues, and therefore the best thing is to

stop your own ears and never mind what is spoken. There is a world of idle

chit-chat abroad, and he who takes note of it will have enough to do. He

will find that even those who live with him are not always singing his

praises, and that when he has displeased, his most faithful servants they

have, in the heat of the moment, spoken fierce words which it would be

better for him not to have heard. Who has not, under temporary irritation,

said that of another which lie has afterwards regretted? It is the part of the

generous to treat passionate words as if they had never been uttered. When

a man is in an angry mood it is wise to walk away from him, and leave off

strife before it be meddled with; and if we are compelled to hear hasty

language, we must endeavor to obliterate it front the memory, and say with

David, “But I, as a deaf man, heard not. I was as a man that heareth not,

and in whose mouth are no reproofs.” Tacitus describes a wise man as

saying to one that railed at him, “You are lord of your tongue, but I am

also master of my ears” — you may say what you please, but I will only

hear what I choose. We cannot shut our ears as we do our eyes, for we

have no ear lids, and yet, as we read of him that “stoppeth his ears from

hearing of blood,” it is, no doubt, possible to seal the portal of the ear so

that nothing contraband shall enter. We would say of the general gossip of

the village, and of the unadvised words of angry friends .... do not hear


them, or if you must hear them, do not lay them to heart, for you also have

talked idly and angrily in your day, and would even now be in an awkward

position if you were called to account for every word that you have

spoken, even about yore- dearest friend. Thus Solomon argued as he

closed the passage which we have quoted, — ” For oftentimes also thine

own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.”

In enlarging upon my text, let me say first, — when you commence your

ministry make up your mind to begin with a clean sheet; be deaf and blind

to the longstanding differences which may survive in the church. AS soon

as you enter upon your pastorate you may be waited upon by persons who

are anxious to secure your adhesion to their side in a family quarrel or

church dispute; be deaf and blind to these people, and assure them that

bygones must be bygones with you and that as you have not inherited your

predecessor’s cupboard you do not mean to eat his cold meat. If any

flagrant injustice has been done, be diligent to set it right, but if it be a mere

feud., bid the quarrelsome party cease from it, and tell him once for all that

you will have nothing to do with it. The answer’ of Gallio will almost suit

you: “If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason

would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question of words and

names, and vain janglings, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such

matters..” When I came to New Park-street Chapel as a young man from

the Country, and was chosen pastor, I was speedily interviewed by a good

man who had left the church, having, as he said, been “treated shamefully.”

He mentioned the names of half-a-dozen persons, all prominent members

of the church, who had behaved in a very unchristian manner to him, he,

poor innocent sufferer, having been a model of patience and holiness. I

learned his character at once from what he said about others (a mode of

judging which has never misled me), and I made up my mind how to act. I

told him that the church had been in a sadly unsettled state, and that the

only way out of the snarl was for every one to forget the past and begin

again. He said that the lapse of years did not alter facts, and I replied that it

would alter a man’s view of them .if’ in that time he had become a wiser

and a better man. However, I added, that all the past had gone away with

my predecessors, that he must follow them to their new spheres, and settle

matter with them, for I would not touch the affair with a pair of tongs. He

waxed somewhat warm, but I allowed him to radiate until he was cool

again, and we shook hands and parted. He was a good man, but

constructed upon an uncomfortable principle, so that he Came across the


path of others in a very awkward manner at, times, and if I had gone into

his narrative and examined his case, there would have been no end to the

strife. I am quite certain that, for my own success, and for the prosperity of

the church,! took the wisest course by applying my blind eye to all disputes

which dated previously to my advent. It is the extreme of unwisdom for a

young man fresh from college, or from another charge, to suffer himself to

be earwigged by a clique, and to be bribed by kindness and flattey to

become a partisan, and so to ruin himself with one-half of his people.

Know nothing of parties and cliques, but be the pastor of all the flock, and

care for all alike. Blessed are the peacemakers, and one sure way of

peacemaking is to let 4he fire of contention alone. Neither fan it, nor stir it,

nor add fuel to it, but let it go out of itself. Begin your ministry with one

blind eye and one deaf ear.

I should recommend the use of the same faculty, or want of faculty, with

regard to finance in the matter of your own salary. There are some

occasions, especially in raising a new church, when you may have no

deacon who is qualified to manage that department, and, therefore, you

may feel called upon to undertake it yourselves. In such a case you are not

to be censured, you ought even to be commended. Many a time also the

work would come to an end altogether if the preacher did not act as his

own deacon, and find supplies both temporal and spiritual by his own

exertions. To these exceptional cases I have nothing to say but that I

admire the struggling worker and deeply sympathize with him, for he is

overweighted, and is apt to be a less successful soldier for his Lord

because he is entangled with the affairs of this life. In churches which are

well established, and afford a decent maintenance, the minister will do well

to supervise all things, but interfere with nothing. If deacons cannot be

trusted they ought not to be deacons at all, but if they are worthy of their

office they are worthy of our confidence, I know that instances occur in

which they are sadly incompetent and yet must be: borne with, and in such

a state of things the pastor must open the eye which otherwise would have

remained blind. Rather than the management of church funds should

become a scandal we must resolutely inter-fete, but; if there is no urgent

call for us to do so we had better believe in the division of labor, and let

deacons do their own work. We have the same right as other officers to

deal with financial matters if we please, but it will be our wisdom as much

as possible to let them alone, if others will manage them for us. When the

purse is bare, the wife sickly, and the children numerous, the preacher must


speak if the church does not properly provide for him; but-to be constantly

bringing before the people requests for an increase of income is not wise.

When a minister is poorly remunerated, and he feels that he is worth more,

and that the church could give him more, he ought kindly, boldly, and

firmly to communicate with the deacons first, and if they do not take it up

he should then mention it to the brethren in a sensible, business-like way,

not as craving a charity, but as putting it to their sense of honor, that “the

laborer is worthy of his hire.” Let him say outright What he thinks, for

there is nothing to be ashamed of, but there would be much more cause for

shame if he dishonored himself and the cause of God by plunging into debt:

let him therefore speak to the point in a proper spirit to the proper persons,

and there end the matter, and not resort to secret complaining. Faith in

God should tone down our concern about temporalities, and enable us to

practice what we preach, namely — ” Take no thought, saying, What shall

we eat? or, What shall we drink; or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? for

your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Some

who have pretended to live by faith have had a very shrewd way of

drawing out donations by turns of the indirect corkscrew, but you will

either ask plainly, like men, or you will leave it to the Christian feeling of

your people, and turn to the items and modes of church finance a blind eye

and a deaf ear.

The blind eye and the deaf ear will come in exceedingly well in connection

with the gossips of the place. Every church, and, for the matter of that,

every village and family, is plagued with certain Mrs. Grundys, Who drink

tea and talk vitriol. They are never quiet, but buzz around to the great

annoyance of those who are devout and practical. No one needs to look far

for perpetual motion, he has only to watch their tongues. At tea-meetings,

Dorcas meetings, and other gatherings, they practice vivisection upon the

characters of their neighbors, and of course they are eager to try their

knives upon the minister, the minister’s wife, the minister’s children, the

minister’s wife’s bonnet, the dress of the minister’s daughter, and how

many new ribbons she: has worn for the last six months, and so on ad

infinitum. There are also certain persons who are never so happy as when

they are “grieved to the heart” to have to tell the minister that Mr. A. is a

snake in the grass, that he is quite mistaken in thinking so well of Messrs.

B and C., and that. they have heard quite “promiscuously” that Mr. D. and

his wife are badly matched. Then follows a long string about Mrs. E., who

says that she and Mrs. F. overheard Mrs. G. say to Mrs. H. that Mrs. J.


should say that Mr. K. and Miss L. were going to move from the chapel

and hear Mr. M., and all because of what old N. said to young O. about

that Miss P. Never listen to such people.. Do as Nelson did when he put his

blind eye to the telescope and declared that he did not see the signal, and

therefore would go on with the battle. Let the creatures buzz, and do not

even hear them, unless indeed they buzz so much concerning one person

that the matter threatens to be serious; then it will be well to bring them to

book and talk in sober earnestness to them. Assure them that you are

obliged to have facts definitely before you, that your memory is not very

tenacious, that you have many things to think ;of, that you are always

afraid of making any mistake in such matters, and that if they would be

good enough to write down what they have to say the case would be more

fully before you, and you could give more time to its consideration. Mrs.

Grundy will not do that; she has a great objection to making clear and

definite statements; she prefers talking at random.

I heartily wish that by any process we could put down gossip, but I

suppose that it will never be done so long as the human race continues

What it is, for James tells us that “every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of

serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of

mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly

poison.” What can’t be cured must be endured, and the best way of

enduring it is not to listen to it. Over one of our old castles a former owner

has inscribed these lines —




Thin-skinned persons should learn this motto by heart. The talk of the

village is never worthy of notice, and you should never .’take any interest

in it except to mourn over the malice and heartlessness of which it is too

often the indicator.

Mayow in his” Plain Preaching” very forcibly says, “If you were to see a

woman killing a farmer’s ducks and geese, for the sake of having one of

the feathers, you would see a person acting as we do when we speak evil

of anyone, for the sake of the pleasure we feel in evil speaking. For the

pleasure we feel is not worth a single feather, and the pain we give is often

greater than a man feels at the loss of his property.” Insert a remark of this


kind now and then in a sermon, when there is no special gossip abroad, and

it may be of some benefit to the more sensible:! quite despair of the rest.

Above all, never join in tale-bearing yourself, and beg your wife to abstain

from it also. Some men are too talkative by half, and remind me of the

young man who was sent to Socrates to learn oratory. On being introduced

to the philosopher he talked so incessantly that Socrates asked for double

fees. “Why charge me doublet” said the young fellow. “Because,” said the

orator, “I must teach you two sciences: the one how to hold your tongue

and the other how to speak.” The first science is the more difficult, but aim

at proficiency in it, or you will suffer greatly, and create trouble without


Avoid with your whole soul that spirit of suspicion which sours some

men’s lives, and to all things from which you might harshly draw an

unkind inference turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. Suspicion makes a man a

torment to himself and a spy towards others. Once begin to suspect, and

causes for distrust will multiply around you, and your very suspiciousness

will create the major part of them. Many a friend has been transformed into

an enemy by being suspected. Do not, therefore, look about you with the

eyes of mistrust, nor listen as an caves-dropper with the quick ear of fear.

To go about the congregation ferreting out disaffection, like a gamekeeper

after rabbits, is a mean employment, and is generally rewarded most

sorrowfully. Lord Bacon wisely advises “the provident Stay of inquiry of

that which we would be loath to find.” When nothing is to be discovered

which will help us to love others we had better cease from the inquiry, for

we may drag to light that which may be the commencement of years of

contention. I am not, of course, referring to cases requiring discipline

which must be thoroughly investigated and boldly dealt with, but! have

upon my mind mere personal matters where the main sufferer is yourself;

here it is always best not to know, nor to wish to know, what is being said

about you, either by friends or foes. Those who praise us are probably as

much mistaken as those who abuse us, and the one may be regarded as a

set off to the other, if indeed it be worth while taking any account at all of

man’s judgment. If we have the approbation of our God, certified by a

placid conscience, we can afford to be indifferent to the opinions of our

fellow men, whether they commend or condemn. If we cannot reach this

point we are babes and not men.


Some are childishly anxious to know their friend’s opinion of them, and if

it contain the smallest element of dissent or censure, they regard him as an

enemy forthwith. Surely we are not popes, and do not wish our hearers to

regard us as infallible l We have known men become quite enraged at a

perfectly fair and reasonable remark, and regard an honest friend as an

opponent who delighted to find fault; this misrepresentation on the one

side has soon produced heat on the other, and strife has ensued. How much

better is gentle forbearance! You must be able to bear criticism, or you are

not fit to be at the head of a congregation; and you must let the critic go

without reckoning him among your deadly foes, or you will prove yourself

a mere weakling. It is wisest always to show double kindness where you

have been severely handled by one who thought it his duty to do so, for he

is probably an honest man and worth winning. He who in your early days

hardly thinks you fit for the pastorate may yet become your firmest

defender if he sees that you grow in grace, and advance in qualification for

the work; do not, therefore, regard him .as a foe for truthfully expressing

his doubts; does not your own heart confess that his fears were not

altogether groundless? Turn your deaf ear to what you judge to be his

harsh criticism, and endeavor to preach better.

Persons from love of change, from pique, from advance in their tastes, and

other causes, may become uneasy under our ministry, and it is well for us

to know nothing about it. Perceiving the danger, we must not betray our

discovery, but bestir ourselves to improve our sermons, hoping that the

good people will be better fed and forget their dissatisfaction. If they are

truly gracious persons, the incipient evil will pass away, and no .real

discontent will arise, or if it does you must not provoke it by 4suspecting


Where I have known that there existed a measure of disaffection 4o myself,

I have not recognized it, unless it has been forced upon me, but have, on

the contrary, acted towards the opposing person with all the more courtesy

and friendliness, and I have never heard any more of the matter. If I had

treated the good man as an opponent, he would have done his best to take

the part assigned him, and carry it out to his own credit; but I felt that he

was a Christian man, and had a right to dislike me if he thought fit, and that

if he did so I ought not to think unkindly of him; and therefore. I treated

him as one who was a friend to my Lord, if not to me, gave him some

work to do which implied confidence in him, made him feel at home, and

by degrees won him to be an attached friend as well as a fellow-worker.


The best of people are sometimes out at elbows and say unkind things; we

should be glad if our friends could quite forget what we said when we

were, peevish and irritable, and it will be Christlike to act towards others in

this matter as we would wish them to do towards us. Never make a brother

remember that he once uttered a hard speech in reference to yourself. If

you see him in a happier mood, do not mention the former painful

occasion: if he be a man of right spirit he will in future be unwilling to vex

a pastor who has treated him so generously, and if he be a mere boor it is a

pity to hold any argument with him, and therefore the past had better go by


It would be better to be deceived a hundred times than %o live a life of

suspicion. It is intolerable. The miser who traverses, his chamber at

midnight and hears a burglar in every falling leaf is not more wretched than

the minister who believes that plots are hatching against him, and that

reports: to his disadvantage are being spread. I remember a brother who

believed that he was being poisoned, and was persuaded that even the seat

he sat upon and the clothes he wore had by some subtle chemistry become

saturated with death; his life was a perpetual scare, and such is the

existence of a minister when he mistrusts all around him. Nor is suspicion

merely a source of disquietude, it is a moral evil, and injures the character

of the man who harbors it. Suspicion in kings creates tyranny, in husbands

jealousy, and in ministers bitterness; such bitterness as in spirit dissolves all

the ties of the pastoral relation, eating like a corrosive acid into the very


the office and making it a curse rather than a blessing. When once this

terrible evil has curdled all the milk of human kindness in a man’s bosom,

he becomes more fit for the detective police force than for the ministry; like

a spider, he begins to cast out his lines, and fashions a web of tremulous

threads, all of which lead up to himself and warn him of the least touch of

even the tiniest midge. There he sits in the center, a mass of sensation, all

nerves and raw wounds, excitable and excited, a self-immolated martyr

drawing the blazing faggots about him, and apparently anxious to be

burned. The most faithful friend is unsafe under such conditions. The most

careful avoidance of offense will not secure immunity from mistrust, but

will probably be construed into cunning anti cowardice. Society is almost

as much in danger from a suspecting man as from a mad dog, for he snaps

on all sides without reason, and scatters right and left the foam of his

madness. It is vain to reason with the victim of this folly, for with perverse


ingenuity he turns every argument the wrong way, and makes your plea for

confidence another reason for mistrust. It is sad that he cannot see the

iniquity of his groundless censure of others, especially of those who have

been his best friends and the firmest upholders of the cause of Christ.

“I would not wrong

Virtue so tried by the least shade of doubt:

Undue suspicion is more abject baseness

Even than the guilt suspected.”

No one ought to be made an offender for a word; but, when suspicion

rules, even silence becomes a crime. Brethren, shun this vice by renouncing

the love of self. Judge it, to be a small matter what men think or Say of

you, and care only for their treatment of your Lord. If you are naturally

sensitive do not indulge the weakness, nor allow others to play upon it.

Would it not be a great degradation of your office if you were to keep an

army of spies in your pay to collect information as to all that your people

said of’ you? And yet it amounts to this if you allow certain busybodies to

bring you all the gossip of the place, Drive the creatures away. Abhor those

mischief-making, tattling handmaidens of strife. Those who will fetch will

carry and no doubt the gossips go from your house and report every

observation which falls from your, lips,, with plenty of garnishing of their

own. Remember that, as the receiver is as bad as the thief, so the hearer of

scandal is: a sharer in the guilt of it. If there were no listening ears there

would be no talebearing tongues. While you are a buyer of ill wares the

demand will create the supply, and the factories of falsehood will be

working full time. No one wishes to become a creator of lies, and yet he

who hears slanders with pleasure and believes them with readiness will

hatch many a brood into active life.

Solomon says; “a whisperer separateth chief friends.” (Prov. 16;28.)

Insinuations are thrown out, and jealousies aroused, till “mutual coolness

ensues, and neither can understand why; each wonders what can possibly

be the cause. Thus the firmest, the longest, the warmest, and most

confiding attachments, the sources of life’s sweetest joys, are broken up

perhaps for ever.” F7 This is work worthy of the arch-fiend himself, but it

could never be done if men lived out of the atmosphere of suspicion. As it

is, the world is full of sorrow through this cause, a sorrow as sharp as it is

superfluous, This is grievous indeed I Campbell eloquently remarks, “The

ruins of old friendships are a more melancholy spectacle to me than those

of desolated palaces. They exhibit the heart which was once lighted up with


joy all damp and deserted, and haunted by those birds of ill omen that

nestle in ruins.” O suspicion, what desolations thou hast made in the earth!

Learn to disbelieve those who have no faith in their brethren. Suspect;

those who would lead you to suspect others. A resolute unbelief in all the

scandalmongers will do much to repress their mischievous energies.

Matthew Pool in his Cripplegate Lecture says, “Common fame hath lost its

reputation long since, and I do not know anything which it hath done in

our day to regain it; therefore it ought not to be credited. How few reports

there are of any kind which, when they come to be examined, we do not

find to be false! For my part, I reckon, if I believe one report in twenty, I

make a very liberal allowance. Especially distrust reproaches and evil

reports, because these spread fastest, as being grateful to most persons,

who suppose their own reputation to be never so well grounded as when it

is built upon the ruins of other men’s.” Because the persons who would

render you mistrustful of your friends are a sorry set, and because

suspicion is in itself a wretched and tormenting vice, resolve to turn

towards the whole business your blind eye and your deaf ear.

Need I say a word or two about the wisdom of never hearing what was not

meant for you. The caves-dropper is a mean person,

very little if anything better than the common informer; and he who says he

overheard may be considered to have heard over and above what he should

have done.

Jeremy Taylor wisely and justly observes, “Never listen at the door or

window, for besides that it contains in it a danger and a snare, it is also

invading my neighbor’s privacy, and a laying that open, Which he therefore

encloses that it might not be open?’ It is a well worn proverb that listeners

seldom hear any good of themselves. Listening is a sort of larceny, but the

goods stolen are never a pleasure to the thief. Information obtained by

clandestine means must, in all but extreme cases, be more injury than

benefit %o a cause. The magistrate may judge it expedient to obtain

evidence by such means, but I cannot imagine a case in which a minister

should do so. Ours is a mission of grace and peace; we are not prosecutors

who search out condemnatory evidence, but friends whose love would

cover a multitude of offenses. The peeping eyes of Canaan, the son of

Ham, shall never be in our employ; we prefer the pious delicacy of Shem

and Japhet, who went backward and covered the shame which the child of

evil had published with glee.


To opinions and remarks about yourself turn also as a general rule the

blind eye and the deaf ear. Public men must expect public criticism, and as

the public cannot be regarded as infallible, public men may expect to be

criticized in a way which is neither fair nor pleasant. To all honest and just

remarks we are bound to give due measure of heed, but to the bitter

verdict of prejudice, the frivolous faultfinding of men of fashion, the stupid

utterances of the ignorant, and the fierce denunciations of opponents, we

may very safely turn a deaf ear. We cannot expect those to approve of us;

whom we condemn by our testimony against their favorite sins their

commendation would show that we had missed our mark:. We naturally

look to be approved by our own people, the members of our churches, and

the adherents of our congregations, and when they make observations

which show that they are not very great admirers, we may be tempted to

discouragement if not to anger: herein lies a snare. When I was about to

leave my village charge for London, one of the old men prayed that! might

be “delivered from the bleating of the sheep.” For the life of me I could not

imagine what he meant, but the riddle is plain now, and I have learned to

offer the prayer myself. Too much consideration of what is said by our

people, whether it be in praise or in depreciation, is not good for us. If we

dwell on high with “that great Shepherd of the sheep” we shall care little

for all the confused bleatings around us, but if we become “carnal, and

walk as men,” we shall have little rest if we listen to this, that, and the

other which every poor sheep may bleat about us. Perhaps it is quite true

that you were uncommonly dull last Sabbath morning, but there was no

need that Mrs. Clack should come and tell you that Deacon Jones thought

so. It is more than probable that having been out in the country all the

previous week, your preaching was very like milk and water, but there can

be no necessity for your going round among the people to discover

whether they noticed it; or not. Is it not enough that your conscience is

uneasy upon the point? Endeavor to improve for the future, but do not

want to hear all that every Jack, Tom, and Mary may have to say about it,

On the other hand, you were on the high horse in your last sermon, and

finished with quite a flourish of trumpets, and you feel considerable anxiety

to know what impression you produced, Repress your curiosity: it will do

you no good to enquire. If the people should happen to agree with your

verdict, it will only feed your pitiful vanity, and if they think otherwise your

fishing for their praise will injure you in their esteem. In any case it is: all

about yourself, and this is a poor theme to be anxious about; play the man,

and do not demean yourself by seeking compliments like tittle children


when dressed in new clothes, who say, “See my pretty frock.” Have you

not by this time discovered that flattery is as injurious as it is pleasant? It

softens the mind and makes you more sensitive to slander. In proportion as

praise pleases you censure will pain you. Besides, it is a crime to be taken

off from your great object of glorifying the Lord Jesus by petty

considerations as to your little self, and, if there were no other reason, this

ought to weigh much with you. Pride is a deadly sin, and will grow without

your borrowing the parish water-cart to quicken it. Forget expressions

which feed your vanity, and if you find yourself relishing the unwholesome

morsels confess the sin with deep humiliation. Payson showed that he was

strong in the Lord when he wrote to his mother,” You must not, certainly,

my dear mother, say one word which even looks like an intimation that you

think me advancing in grace. I cannot bear it. All the people here, whether

friends or enemies, conspire to ruin me. Satan and my own heart, of

course, will lend a hand; and if you join too, I fear all the cold water which

Christ can throw upon my pride will not prevent its breaking out into a

destructive flame. As certainly as anybody flatters and caresses me my

heavenly Father has to whip me: and an unspeakable mercy it is that he

condescends to do it. I can, it is true, easily muster a hundred reasons why

I should not be proud, but pride will not mind mason, nor anything else but

a good drubbing. Even at this moment I feel it tingling in my fingers’ ends,

and seeking to guide my pen,” Knowing something myself of those secret

Whippings which our good Father administers to’ his servants when he

sees them unduly exalted, I heartily add my own Solemn warnings against

your pampering the flesh by listening to the praises of the kindest friends

you have. They are injudicious, and you must beware of them.

A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will

be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers

if you have sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be

thankful for it. When I was preaching at the Surrey Gardens, an. unknown

censor of great ability used to send me a weekly list of my

mispronunciations and other Slips of speech. He never signed his name,

and that was my only cause of complaint against him, for he left me in a

debt which I could not acknowledge.! take this opportunity of confessing

my obligations to him, for with genial temper, and an evident desire to

benefit me, he marked down most relentlessly everything which he

supposed me to have said incorrectly. Concerning some of these

corrections he was in error himself, but for the most part he was right, and


his remarks enabled me to perceive and avoid many mistakes. I looked for

his weekly memoranda with much interest, and! trust I am all the better for

them. If I had repeated a sentence two or three Sundays before, he would

say, “See same expression in such a sermon,” mentioning number and

page. He remarked on one occasion that I too often quoted the line

“Nothing in my hands I bring;’

and, he added, “we are sufficiently informed of the vacuity of your hands.”

He demanded my authority for calling a man covetous; and so on. Possibly

some young men might have been discouraged, if not irritated, by such

severe criticisms, but they would have been very foolish, for in resenting

such correction they would have been throwing away a valuable aid to

progress No money can purchase outspoken honest judgment, and when

we can get it for nothing let us utilize it to the fullest extent. The worst of

it is that of those who offer their judgments few are qualified to form them,

and we shall be pestered with foolish, impertinent remarks, unless we turn

to them all the blind eye and the deaf ear.

In the case of false reports against yourself, for the most part use the deaf

ear.. Unfortunately liars are not yet extinct, and, like Richard Baxter and

John Bunyan, you may be accused of crimes which your soul abhors. Be

not staggered thereby, for this trial has befallen the very best of men, and

even your Lord did not escape the envenomed tongue of falsehood. In

almost all cases it is the wisest course to let such things die a natural death.

A great he, if unnoticed, is like a big fish out of water, it dashes and

plunges and beaks itself to death in a short time. To answer it is to supply it

with its element, and help it to a longer life. Falsehoods usually carry their

own refutation somewhere about them, and sting themselves to death.

Some lies especially have a peculiar smell, which betrays their rottenness to

every honest nose. If you are disturbed by them the object of their

invention is partly answered, but your silent endurance disappoints; malice

and gives you a partial victory, which God in his care of you will soon turn

into a complete deliverance. Your blameless life will be your best defense,

and those who have seen it will not allow you to be condemned so readily

as your slanderers expect. Only abstain from fighting your own battles, and

in nine cases out of ten your accuser’s will gain nothing by their

malevolence but chagrin for themselves and contempt from others. To

prosecute the slanderer is very seldom wise. I remember a beloved servant

of Christ who in his youth was very sensitive, and, being falsely accused,


proceeded against the person at law. An apology was offered, it withdrew

every iota of the charge, and was most ample, but the good man insisted

upon its being printed in the newspapers, and the result convinced him of

his own unwisdom. Multitudes, who would otherwise have never heard of

the libel, asked what it meant, and made comments thereon, generally

concluding with the sage remark that he must have done something

imprudent to provoke such an accusation, tie was heard to say that so long

as he lived he would never resort to such a method again, for he felt that

the public apology had done him more harm that the slander itself.

Standing as we do in a position which makes us choice targets for the devil

and his allies, our best course is to defend our innocence by our silence and

leave our reputation with God. Yet there are exceptions to this general

rule. When distinct, definite, public charges are made against a man he is

bound to answer them, and answer them in the clearest and most open

manner. To decline all investigation is in such a case practically to plead

guilty, and whatever may be the mode of putting it, the general public

ordinarily regard a refusal to reply as a proof of guilt. Under mere worry

and annoyance it is by far the best to be altogether passive, but when the

matter assumes more serious proportions, and our accuser defies us to a

defense, we are bound to meet his charges with honest statements of fact.

In every instance counsel should be sought of the Lord as to how to deal

with slanderous tongues, and in the issue innocence will be vindicated and

falsehood convicted.

Some ministers have been broken in spirit, driven from their position, and

even injured in character by taking notice of village scandal. I know a fine

young man, for whom I predicted a career of usefulness, who fell into great

trouble because he at first allowed it to be a trouble and then worked hard

to make it so. He came to me and complained that he had a great

grievance; and so it was a grievance, but from beginning to end it was all

about what some half-dozen women had said about his procedure after the

death of his wife. It was originally too small a thing to deal with,. — a Mrs.

Q. had said that she should not wonder if the minister married the servant

then living in his house; another represented her as saying that he ought to

marry her, and then a third, with a malicious ingenuity, found a deeper

meaning in the words, and construed them into a charge. Worst of all, the

dear sensitive preacher must needs trace the matter out and accuse a score

or two of people of spreading libels against him, and even threaten some of

them with legal proceedings. If he could have prayed ever it in secret, or


even have whistled over it, no harm would have come of the tittle-tattle;

but this dear brother could not treat the slander wisely, for he had not what

I earnestly recommend to you, namely, a blind eye and a deaf ear.

Once mercy, my brethren, the blind eye and the deaf ear will be useful to

you in relation to other churches and their pastors. I am always delighted

when a brother in meddling with other people’s business burns his fingers.

Why did he not attend to his own concerns and not episcopize in another’s

diocese? I am frequently requested by members of churches to meddle in

their home disputes; but unless they come to me with authority, officially

appointing me to be umpire, I decline. Alexander Cruden gave himself the

name of “the Corrector,” and I have never envied him the title. It would

need a peculiar inspiration to enable a man to settle all the controversies of

our churches, and as a rule those who are least qualified are the most eager

to attempt it. For the most part interference, however well intentioned, is a

failure. Internal dissensions in our churches are very like quarrels between

man and wife: when the case comes to such a pass that they must fight it

out, the interposing party will be the victim of their common, fury. No one

but Mr. Verdant Green will interfere in a domestic battle, for the man of

course: resents it, and the lady, though suffering from many a blow, will

say, “You leave my husband alone; he has a right to beat me if he likes.”

However great the mutual animosity of conjugal combatants, it seems to be

forgotten in resentment against intruders; and so, amongst the very

independent denomination of Baptists, the person outside the church who

interferes in any manner is sure to get the worst of it. Do not consider

yourself to be the bishop of all the neighboring churches, but be satisfied

with looking after Lystra, or Derbe, or Thessalonica, or whichever church

may have been allotted to your care, and leave Philippi and Ephesus in the

hands of their own pastors. Do not encourage disaffected persons in

finding fault with their minister, or in bringing you news of evils in other

congregations. When you meet your brother ministers do not be in a hurry

to advise them; they know their duty quite as well as you know yours, and

your judgment upon their course of action is probably founded upon partial

information supplied from prejudiced sources. Do not grieve your

neighbors by your meddlesomeness. We have all enough to do at home,

and it is prudent to keep out of all disputes which do not belong to us. We

are recommended by one of the world’s proverbs to v/ash our dirty linen at

home, and I will add another line to it, and advise that we do not call on

our neighbors while their linen is in the suds. This is due to our friends, and


will best promote peace. “He that passeth by and meddleth with strife

belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears “; — he is

very apt to be bitten, and few will pity him. Bridges wisely observes that

“Our blessed Master has read us a lesson of godly wisdom. He healed the

contentions in his own family, but when called to meddle with strife

belonging not to him, he gave answer. Who made me a judge or a divider

over you?’“ Self-constituted: judges win but little respect; if they were

more fit to censure they would be less inclined to do so. Many a trifling

difference within a church has been fanned into a great flame by ministers

outside who had no idea of the mischief they were causing: they gave

verdicts upon exparte statements, and so egged on opposing persons who

felt safe when they could say that the neighboring ministers quite agreed

with them. My counsel is that we join the “Knownothings,” and never say a

word upon a matter till we have heard both sides; and, moreover, that we

do our best to avoid hearing either one side or the other if the matter does

not concern us.

Is not this a sufficient explanation of my declaration that I have one bung

eye and one deaf ear, and that they are the best eye and ear I have?




THE grand object of the Christian ministry is the glory of God. Whether

souls are converted or not, if Jesus Christ be faithfully preached, the

minister has not labored in vain, for he is a sweet savor unto God as well in

them that perish as in them that are saved. Yet, as a rule, God has sent us to

preach in order that through the gospel of Jesus Christ the sons of men

may be reconciled to him. Here and there a preacher of righteousness, like

Noah, may labor on and bring none beyond his own family circle into the

ark of salvation; and another, like Jeremiah, may weep in vain over an

impenitent nation; but, for the most part the work of preaching is intended

to save the hearers. It is ours to sow even in stony places, where no fruit

rewards our toil; but still we are bound to look for a harvest, and mourn if

it does not appear in due time.

The glory of God being ore’ chief object, we aim at it by seeking the

edification of saints and the salvation of sinners. It is a noble work to

instruct the people of God, and to build them up in their most holy faith:

we may by no means neglect this duty. To this end we must give clear

statements of ;gospel doctrine, of vital experience, and of Christian duty,

and never shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God. In too many

cases sublime truths are held in abeyance under the pretense that they are

not practical; whereas the very fact that they are revealed proves that the

Lord thinks them to be of value:, and woe unto us if we pretend to be

wiser than he. We may say of any and every doctrine of Scripture —

“To give it then a tongue is wise in man.”

If any one note is dropped from the divine harmony of truth the music may

be sadly marred. Your people may fall into grave spiritual diseases through

the lack of a certain form of spiritual nutriment, which can only be supplied

by the doctrines which you withhold. In the food which we eat there are

ingredients which do not at first appear to be necessary to life; but

experience shows that they are requisite to health and strength. Phosphorus

will not make flesh, but it is wanted for bone; many earths and salts come


under the same description — they are necessary in due proportion to the

human economy. Even thus certain truths which appear to be little adapted

for spiritual nutriment are, nevertheless, very beneficial in furnishing

believers with backbone and muscle, and in repairing the varied organs of

Christian manhood. We must preach “the whole truth,” that the man of

God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Our great object of glorifying God is, however, to be mainly achieved by

the winning of souls. We must see souls born unto God. If we do not, our

cry should be that of Rachel “Give me children, or I die.” If we do not win

souls, we should mourn as the husbandman who sees no harvest, as the

fisherman who returns to his cottage with an empty net, or as the huntsman

who has in ,vain roamed over hill and dale. Ours should be Isaiah’s

language uttered with many a sigh and groan — ” Who hath believed our

report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” The ambassadors of

peace should not cease to weep bitterly until sinners weep for their sins.

If we intensely desire to see our hearers believe on the Lord Jesus, how

Shall we act in order to be used of God for producing such a result? This is

the theme of the present lecture.

Since conversion is a divine work, we must take care that we depend

entirely upon the Spirit of God, and look to him for power over men’s

minds. Often as this remark is repeated, I fear we too little feel its force;

for if we were more truly sensible of our need of the Spirit of God, should

we not study more in dependence upon his teaching? Should we not pray

more importunately to be anointed with his sacred unction? Should we not

in preaching give more scope for his operation? Do we not fail in many of

our efforts, because we practically, though not doctrinally, ignore the Holy

Ghost? His place as God is on the throne, and in all our enterprises he must

be first, midst, and end: we are instruments in his hand, and nothing more.

This being fully admitted, what else should be done if we hope to see

conversions? Assuredly we should be careful to preach most prominently

those truths which are likely to lead to this end. What truths are those? I

answer, we should first and foremost preach Christ, and him crucified.

Where Jesus is exalted souls are attracted; — ”I, if I be lifted up, will draw

all men unto me.” The preaching of the cross is to them that are saved the

wisdom of God and the power of God. The Christian minister should

preach all the truths which cluster around the person and work of the Lord

Jesus, and hence he must declare very earnestly and pointedly the evil of


sin, which created the need of a Savior. Let him show that sin is a breach

of the law, that it necessitates punishment, and that the wrath of God is

revealed against it. Let him never treat sin as though it were a trifle, or a

misfortune, but let him set it forth as exceeding sinful. Let him go into

particulars, not superficially glancing at evil in the gross, but mentioning

various sins in detail, especially those most current at the time: such as that

all-devouring hydra of drunkenness, which devastates our land; lying,

which in the form of slander abounds on all sides; and licentiousness, which

must be mentioned with holy delicacy, and yet needs to be denounced

unsparingly. We must especially reprove those evils into which our hearers

have fallen, or are likely to fall. Explain the ten commandments and obey

the divine injunction: “show my people their transgressions, and the house

of Jacob their sins.” Open up. the spirituality of the law as our Lord did,

and show how it is broken by evil thoughts, intents, and imaginations, By

this means many sinners will be pricked in their hearts. Old Robbie

Flockhart used to say, “It is of no use trying to sew with the silken thread

of the gospel unless we pierce a way for it with the sharp, needle of the

law.” The law goes first, like the needle, and draws the gospel thread after

it: therefore preach concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.

Let such language as that of the fifty-first Psalm be often explained: show

that God requireth truth in the inward parts, and that purging with

sacrificial blood is absolutely needful. Aim at the heart. Probe the wound

and touch the very quick of the soul. Spare not the sterner themes, for men

must be wounded before they can be healed, and slain before they can be

made alive. No man will ever put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness till

he is stripped of his fig leaves, nor will he wash in the fount of mercy till he

perceives his filthiness. Therefore, my brethren, we must not cease to

declare the law, its demands, its threatenings, and the sinner’s multiplied

breaches of it.

Teach the depravity of human nature. Show men that sin is not an

accident, but the genuine outcome of their corrupt hearts. Preach the

doctrine of the natural depravity of man. It is an unfashionable truth; for

nowadays ministers are to be found who are very fine upon “the dignity of

human nature.” The “lapsed state of man” .... that is the phrase — is

sometimes alluded to, but the corruption of our nature, and kindred themes

are carefully avoided: Ethiopians are informed that they may whiten their

skins, and it is hoped that; leopards will remove their spots. Brethren, you

will not fall into this delusion, or, if you do, you may expect few


conversions. To prophecy smooth things, and to extenuate the evil of our

lost estate, is not the way to lead men to Jesus.

Brethren, the necessity for the Holy Ghost’s divine operations will follow

as a matter of course upon the former teaching, for dire necessity demands

divine interposition. Men must be told that they are dead, and that only the

Holy’ Spirit can quicken them; that the Spirit works according to his own

good pleasure, and that no man can claim his visitations or deserve his aid.

This is thought to be very discouraging teaching, and so it is, but men need

to be discouraged when they are seeking salvation in a wrong manner. To

put them out of conceit of their own abilities is a great help toward

bringing them to look out of self to another, even the Lord Jesus. The

doctrine of election and other great truths which declare salvation to be all

of grace, and to be, not the right of the creature, but the gift of the

Sovereign Lord, are all calculated to hide pride from man, and so to

prepare him to receive the mercy .of God.

We must also set before our hearers the justice of God and the certainty

that every transgression will be punished. Often must we

“Before them place in dread array,

The pomp of that tremendous day

When Christ with clouds shall come.”

Sound in their ears the doctrine of the second advent, not as a curiosity of

prophecy, but as a solemn practical fact. It is idle to set forth our Lord in

all the tinkling bravery of an earthly kingdom, after the manner of brethren

who believe in a revived Judaism ;; we: need to preach the Lord as coming

to judge the world in righteousness, to summon the nations to his bar, and

to separate them as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. Paul

preached of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, and made

Felix tremble: these themes are equally powerful now. We rob the gospel

of its power if we leave out its threatenings of punishment. It is to be

feared that the novel opinions upon annihilation and restoration which have

afflicted the Church in these last days have caused many ministers to be

slow to speak concerning the last judgment and its issues, and

consequently the terrors of the Lord have had small influence upon either

preachers or hearers. If this be so it cannot be too much regretted, for one

great means of conversion is thus left unused.


Beloved brethren, we must be most of all clear upon the great soul-saying

doctrine of the atonement; we must preach a real bona fide substitutionary

sacrifice, and proclaim pardon as its result. Cloudy views as to atoning

blood are mischievous to the last degree; souls are held in unnecessary

bondage;, and saints are robbed of the calm confidence of faith, because

they are not definitely told that “God hath made Him to be sin for us, who

knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” We

must preach substitution straightforwardly and unmistakably, for if any

doctrine be plainly taught in Scripture it is this, — “The chastisement of

our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.” “He, His

own self, bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” This truth gives rest

to the conscience by showing how God can be just, and the justifier of him

that believeth. This is the great net of gospel fishermen: the fish are drawn

or driven in the right direction by other truths, but this is the net itself.

If men are to be saved, we must in plainest terms preach justification by

faith, as the method by which the atonement becomes effectual in the

soul’s experience. If we are saved by the substitutionary work of Christ, no

merit of ours is wanted, and all men have to do is by a simple faith to

accept what Christ has already done. It is delightful to dwell on the grand

truth that “This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat

down on the right hand of God.” O glorious sight — -the Christ sitting

down in the place of honor because his work is done. Well may the soul

rest in a work so evidently complete.

Justification by faith must never be obscured, and yet all are not dear upon

it. I once heard a sermon upon “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,”

of which the English was, “Be good, very good, and[ though you will have

to suffer in consequence, God will reward you in the end.” The preacher,

no doubt, believed in justification by faith, but he very distinctly preached

the opposite doctrine, Many do this when addressing children, and I notice

that they generally speak to the little ones about loving Jesus, and not upon

believing in him. This must leave a mischievous impression upon youthful

minds and take them off from the true way of peace.

Preach earnestly tike love of God in Christ Jesus, and magnify the

abounding mercy of the Lord; but always preach it in connection with his

justice. Do not extol the single attribute of love in the method too generally

followed, but regard love in the high theological sense, in which, like a

golden circle, it holds within itself all the divine attributes: for God were


not love if he were not just, and did not hate every unholy thing. ]Never

exalt one attribute at the expense of another. Let boundless mercy be seen

in calm consistency with stem justice and unlimited sovereignty. The true

character of God is fitted to awe, impress, and humble the sinner: be

careful not to misrepresent your Lord.

All these truths and others which complete the evangelical system are

calculated to lead men to faith; therefore make them the staple of your


Secondly, if we are intensely anxious to have souls saved we must not;

only preach the truths which are likely to lead up to this end, but we must

use modes of handling those truths which are likely to conduce thereto.

Do you enquire, what are they? First, you must do a great deal by; way of

instruction. Sinners are not saved in darkness but from it; “that the soul be

without knowledge, it is not good.” Men must be taught concerning

themselves, their sin, and their fall; their Savior, redemption, regeneration,

and so on. Many awakened souls would gladly accept God’s way of

salvation if they did but know it; they are akin to those of whom the

apostle said, “And now, brethren, I would that through ignorance ye did

it.” If you will instruct them God will save them: is it not written, “the

entrance of thy word giveth light”? If the Holy Spirit blesses your teaching,

they will see how wrong they have been, and they will be led to repentance

and faith.! do not believe in that preaching which lies mainly in shouting,

“]Believe l believe! believe!” In common justice you are bound to tell the

poor people what they are to believe. There must be instruction, otherwise

the exhortation to believe is manifestly ridiculous, and must in practice be

abortive. I fear that some of our orthodox brethren have been prejudiced

against the free invitations of the gospel by hearing the raw, undigested

harangues of revivalist speakers whose heads are loosely put together. The

best way to preach sinners to Christ is to preach Christ to sinners.

Exhortations, entreaties, and beseechings, if not accompanied with sound

instruction., are like ruing off powder without shot. You may shout, and

weep, and plead, but you cannot lead men to believe what they have not

heard, nor to receive a truth which has never been set before them.

“Because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge.”

While giving instruction it is wise to appeal to the understanding. True

religion is as logical as if it were not emotional. I am not an admirer of the

peculiar views of Mr. Finney, but I have no doubt that he was useful to


many; and his power lay in his use of clear arguments. Many who knew his

fame were greatly disappointed at first hearing him, because he used few

beauties of speech and was as calm and dry as a book of Euclid; but he was

exactly adapted to a certain order of minds, and they were convinced and

convicted by his forcible reasoning. Should not persons of an

argumentative cast of mind be provided for? We are to be all things to all

men, and to these men we must become argumentative and push them into

a corner with plain deductions and necessary inferences. Of carnal

reasoning we would have none, but of fair, honest pondering, considering,

judging, and arguing the more the better.

The class requiring logical argument is small compared with the number of

those who need to be pleaded with, by way of emotional persuasion. They

require not so much reasoning as heart-argument — which is logic set on

fire. You must argue with them as a mother pleads with her boy that he

will not grieve her, or as a fond sister entreats a brother to return to their

father’s home and seek reconciliation: argument must be quickened into

persuasion by the living warmth of love. Cold logic has its force, but when

made red hot with affection the power of tender argument is inconceivable.

The power which one mind can gain over others is enormous, but it is

often best developed when the leading mind has ceased to have power over

itself. When passionate zeal has carried the man himself away his speech

becomes an irresistible torrent, sweeping all before it. A man known to be

godly and devout, and felt to be large-hearted and self-sacrificing, has a

power in his very person, and his advice and recommendation carry weight

because of his character; but when he comes to plead and to persuade,

even to tears, his influence is wonderful, and God the Holy Spirit yokes it

into his service. Brethren, we must plead. Entreaties and beseechings must

blend with our instructions. Any and every appeal which will reach the

conscience and move men to fly to Jesus we must perpetually employ, if by

any means we may save some. I have sometimes heard ministers blamed

for speaking of themselves when they are pleading, but the censure need

not be much regarded while we have such a precedent as the example of

Paul. ‘To a congregation who love you it is quite allowable to mention

your grief that many of them are unsaved, and. your vehement desire, and

incessant prayer for their conversion. You are doing .right when you

mention your own experience of the goodness of God in Christ Jesus, and

plead with men to come and taste the same. We must not be abstractions

or mere officials to our people, but we must plead with them as real flesh


and blood, if we would see them converted. When you can quote yourself

as a living instance of what grace has done, the plea is too powerful to be

withheld through fear of being charged with egotism.

Sometimes, too, we must change our tone. Instead of instructing,

reasoning, and persuading, we must come to threatening, and declare the

wrath of God upon impenitent souls. We must lift the curtain and let them

see the future. Show them their danger, and warn them to escape from the

wrath to come. This done, we must return to invitation, and set before the

awakened mind the rich provisions of infinite grace which are freely

presented to the sons of men. In our Master’s name we must give the

invitation, crying, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

Do not be deterred from this, my brethren, by those ultra-Calvinistic

theologians who say, “You may instruct and warn the ungodly, but you

must not invite or entreat them.” And why not? “Because they are dead

sinners, and it is therefore absurd to invite them, since they cannot come.”

Wherefore then may we warn or instruct them? The argument is so strong,

if it be strong at all, that it sweeps away all modes of appeal to sinners, and

they alone are logical who, after they have preached to the saints, sit down

and say, “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” On

what ground are we to address the ungodly at all? If we are only to bid

them do such things as they are capable of doing without the Spirit of God,

we are reduced to mere moralists. If it be absurd to bid the dead sinner

believe and live, it is equally vain to bid him consider his state, and reflect

upon his future doom. Indeed, it would be idle altogether were it not that

true preaching is an act of faith, and is owned by the Holy Spirit as the

means of working spiritual miracles. If we were by ourselves, and did not

expect divine interpositions, we should be wise to keep within the bounds

of reason, and persuade men to do only what we see in them the ability to

do. We should then bid the living live, urge the seeing to see, and persuade

the willing to will. The task would be so easy that it might even seem to be

superfluous; certainly no special call of the Holy Ghost would be needed

for So very simple an undertaking. But, brethren, where is the mighty

power and the victory of faith if our ministry is this and nothing more?

Who among the sons of men would think it a great vocation to be sent into

a synagogue to say to a perfectly vigorous man, “Rise up and walk,” or to

the possessor of sound limbs, “Stretch out thine hand.” He is a poor

Ezekiel whose greatest achievement is to cry, “Ye living souls, live.”


Let; the two methods be set side by side as to practical result, and it will be

seen that those who never exhort sinners are seldom winners of souls to

any great extent, but they maintain their churches by converts from other

systems. I have even heard them say, “Oh, yes, the Methodists and

Revivalists are beating the hedges, but we shall catch many of the, birds.”

If I harbored such a mean thought I should be ashamed to express it. A

system which cannot touch the outside world, but must leave arousing and

converting work to others, whom it judges to be unsound, writes its own


Again, brethren, if we wish to see souls saved, we must be wise as to the

times when we address the unconverted. Very little common sense is spent

over this matter. Under certain ministries there is a set time for speaking to

sinners, and this comes as regularly as the hour of noon. A few crumbs of

the feast are thrown to the dogs under the table at the close of the

discourse: and they treat your crumbs as you treat them, namely, with

courteous indifference. Why should the warning word be always at the

}.tinder end of the discourse when hearers are most likely to be weary?

Why give men notice to buckle on their harness so as to be prepared to

repel our attack? When their interest is excited, and they are least upon the

defensive, then let fly a shaft at the careless, and it will frequently be more

effectual than a whole flight of arrows shot against them at a time when

they are thoroughly encased in armor of proof. Surprise is a great element

in gaining attention and fixing a remark upon the memory, and times for

addressing the careless should be chosen with an eye to that fact. It may be

very well as a nile to seek the edification of the saints in the morning

discourse, but it would be wise to vary it, and let the unconverted

sometimes have the chief labor of your preparation and the best service of

the day.

Do not close a single sermon without addressing the ungodly, but at the

same time set yourself seasons for a determined and continuous assault

upon them, and proceed with all your soul to the conflict. On such

occasions aim distinctly at immediate conversions; labor to remove

prejudices, to resolve doubts, to conquer objections, and to drive the sinner

out of his hiding-places at once. Summon the church members to special

prayer, beseech them to speak personally both with the concerned and the

unconcerned, and be yourself doubly upon the watch to address

individuals. We have found that our February meetings at the Tabernacle

have yielded remarkable results: the whole month being dedicated to


special effort. Winter is usually the preacher’s harvest, because the people

can come together better in the long evenings, and are debarred from outof-

door exercises and amusements. Be well prepared for the appropriate

season when “kings go forth to battle.”

Among the important elements in the promotion of conversion are your

own tone, temper, and spirit in preaching. If you preach the truth in a dull,

monotonous style, God may bless it, but in all probability he will not; at

any rate the tendency of such a style is not to promote attention, but to

hinder it. It is not often that sinners are awakened by ministers who are

themselves asleep. A hard, unfeeling mode of’ speech is also to be avoided;

want of tenderness is a sad lack, and repels rather than attracts. The spirit

of Elijah may startle, and where it is exceedingly intense it may go far to

prepare for the reception of the gospel; but for actual conversion more of

John is needed, — love is the winning force. We must love men to Jesus.

Great hearts are the main qualifications for great preachers, and we must

cultivate our affections to that end. At the same time our manner must not

degenerate into the soft and saccharine cant which some men affect who

are for ever dearing everybody, and fawning upon people as if they hoped

to soft-sawder them into godliness. Manly persons are disgusted, and

suspect hypocrisy when they hear a preacher talking molasses. Let us be

bold and outspoken, and never address our hearers as if we were asking a

favor of them, or as if they would oblige the Redeemer by allowing him to

save them. We are bound to be lowly, but our office as ambassadors should

prevent our being servile.

Happy shall we be if we preach believingly, always expecting the Lord to

bless his own word. This will give us a quiet confidence which will forbid

petulance, rashness, and weariness. If we ourselves doubt the power of the

gospel, how can we preach it with authority? Feel that you are a favored

man in being allowed to proclaim the good news, and rejoice that your

mission is fraught with eternal benefit to those before you. Let the people

see how glad and confident the gospel has made you, and it will go far to

make them 1ong to partake in its blessed influences.

Preach very solemnly, for it is a weighty business, but let your matter be

lively and pleasing, for this will prevent solemnity from souring into

dreariness. Be so thoroughly solemn that all your faculties are aroused and

consecrated, and then a clash of humor will only add intenser gravity to the

discourse, even as a flash of lightning makes midnight darkness all the


more impressive. Preach to one ]point, concentrating all your energies

upon the object aimed at. There must be no riding of hobbies, no

introduction of elegancies of speech, no suspicion of personal display, or

yon will fail. Sinners are quick-witted people, and soon detect even the

smallest effort to glorify self. Forego everything for the sake of those you

long to save. Be a fool for Christ’s sake if this will win them, or be a

scholar, if that will be more likely to impress them. Spare neither labor in

the study, prayer in the closet, nor zeal in the pulpit. If men do not judge

their souls to be worth a thought, compel them to see that their minister is

of a vex], different opinion.

Mean conversions, expect them, and prepare for them. Resolve that your

hearers shall either yield to your Lord or be without excuse, and that this

shall be the immediate result of the sermon now in hand. Do not let the

Christians around you wonder when souls are saved, but urge them to

believe in the undiminished power of the glad tidings, and teach them to

marvel if no saving result follows the delivery of the testimony of Jesus. Do

not permit sinners to hear sermons as a matter of course, or allow them to

play with the edged tools of Scripture as if they were mere toys; but again

and again remind them that every true gospel sermon leaves them worse if

it does not make them better. Their unbelief is a daily, hourly sin; never let

them infer from your teaching that they are to be pitied for continuing to

make God a liar by rejecting his Son.

Impressed with a sense of their danger, give the ungodly no rest in their

sins; knock again and again at the door of their hearts, and knock as for life

and death. Your solicitude, your earnestness, your anxiety, your travailing

in birth for them God will bless to their arousing. God works mightily by

this instrumentality. But our agony for souls must be real and not reigned,

and therefore our hearts must be wrought, into true sympathy with God.

Low piety means little spiritual power. Extremely pointed addresses may

be delivered by men whose hearts are out of order with the Lord, but their

result must be small. There is a something in the very tone of the man who

has been with Jesus which has more power to touch the heart than the

most perfect oratory: remember this and maintain an unbroken walk with

God. You will need much night-work in secret if you are to gather many’

of your Lord’s lost sheep. Only by prayer an([ fasting can you gain power

to cast out the worst of devils. Let men say what they will about

sovereignty, God connects special success with special states of heart, and

if these are lacking he will not do many mighty works.


In addition to earnest preaching it will be wise to use other means. If you

wish to see results from your sermons you must be accessible to inquirers.

A meeting after every service may not be desirable, brat; frequent

opportunities for coming into direct contact with your people should be

sought after, and by some means created. It is Shocking to think that there

are ministers who have no method whatever for meeting the anxious, and if

they do see here and there one, it is because of the courage of the seeker,

and not because of the earnestness of the pastor. From the very first you

short.[([ appoint frequent and regular seasons for seeing all who are

seeking after Christ, and you should continually invite such to come and

speak with you. In addition to this, hold numerous inquirers’ meetings, at

which the addresses shall be all intended to assist the troubled and guide

the perplexed, and with these intermingle fervent prayers for the individuals

present, and short testimonies from recent converts and others. As an open

confession of Christ is continually mentioned in connection with saving

faith, it is your wisdom to make it easy for believers who are as yet

following Jesus by night to come forward and avow their allegiance to him.

There must be no persuading to make a profession, but there should be

every opportunity for so doing, and no stumbling-block placed in the way

of hopeful minds. As for those who are not so far advanced as to warrant

any thought of baptism, you may be of the utmost benefit to them by

personal intercourse, and therefore you should seek it. Doubts may be

cleared away, errors rectified, and terrors dispelled by a few moments’

conversation; I have known instances in which a life-long misery has been

ended by a simple explanation which might have been given years before.

Seek out the wandering sheep one by one; and when you find all your

thoughts needed for a single individual, do not grudge your labor, for your

Lord in his parable represents the good shepherd as bringing home his lost

sheep, not in a flock, but one at a time upon his shoulders, and rejoicing so

to do.

With all that you can do your desires will not be fulfilled, for soul-winning

is a pursuit which grows upon a man; the more he is rewarded with

Conversions the more eager he becomes to see greater numbers born unto

God. Hence you will soon discover that you need help if many are to be

brought in. The net soon becomes too heavy for one pair of hands to drag

to shore when it is filled with fishes; and your fellow-helpers must be

beckoned to your assistance. Great things are done by the Holy Spirit when

a whole church is aroused to sacred energy: then there are hundreds of


testimonies instead of one, and these strengthen each other; then advocates

for Christ succeed each other and work into each other’s hands, while

supplication ascends to heaven with the force of united importunity; thus

sinners are encompassed with a cordon of earnest entreaties, and heaven

itself is called into the field. It would seem hard in some congregations for

a sinner to be saved, for whatever good he may receive from the pulpit its

frozen out of him by the arctic atmosphere with which he is surrounded:

and on the other hand some churches make it hard for men to remain

unconverted, for with holy zeal they persecute the careless into anxiety. It

should be our ambition, in the power of the Holy Ghost, to work the entire

church into a fine missionary condition, to make it like a Leyden jar

charged ‘to the full with divine electricity, so that whatever comes into

contact with it shall feel its power. What can one man do alone? What can

he not do with an army of enthusiasts around him? Contemplate at the

outset the possibility of having a church of soulwinners. Do not succumb

to the usual idea that we can only gather a few useful workers, and that the

rest of the community must inevitably be a dead weight: it may possibly so

happen, but do not set out with that notion or it will be verified. The usual

need not be the universal; better things are possible than anything yet

attained; set your aim high and spare no effort to reach it.. Labor to gather

a church alive for Jesus, every member energetic to the full, and the whole

in incessant activity for the salvation of men. To this end there must be the

best of preaching to feed the host into strength, continual prayer to bring

down the power from on high, and the most heroic example on your own

part to fire their zeal: then under the divine blessing a common-sense

management of the entire force cannot fail to produce the most desirable

issues. Who among you can grasp this idea and embody it in actual fact?

To call in another brother every now and then to take the lead in

evangelistic services will be found very wise and useful; for there are some

fish that never will be taken in your net, but will surely fall to the lot of

another fisherman. Fresh voices penetrate where the accustomed sound has

lost effect, and they tend also to beget a deeper interest in those already

attentive. Sound and prudent evangelists may lend help even to the most

efficient pastor, and gather in fruit which he has failed to reach; at any rate

it makes a break in the continuity of ordinary services, and renders them

less likely to become monotonous, Never suffer jealousy to hinder you in

this. Suppose another lamp should outshine yore’s, what will it matter so

long as it brings light to those whose welfare you are seeking? Say with


Moses, “Would God all the Lord’s servants were prophets.” He who is

free from selfish jealousy will find that no occasion will suggest it; his

people may be well aware that their pastor is excelled by others in talent,

but they will be ready to assert that he is surpassed by none in love to their

souls. It is not needful for a loving son to believe that his father is the most

learned man in the parish; he loves him for his own sake, and not because

he is superior to others. Call in every now and then a warm-hearted

neighbor, utilize the talent in +,he church itself, and procure the services of

some eminent soul-winner, and this may, in God’s hands, break up the hard

soil for you, and bring you brighter days.

In fine, beloved brethren, by any means, by all means, labor to glorify God

by conversions, and rest not till your heart’s desire is fulfilled

Passmore & Alabaster, Printers, Faun Street, Aldersgate Street, E.C.



ft1 This lecture was delivered to ministers who had been educated at the

Pastors’ College as well as to students, hence certain differences of


Ft2 From “Chambers’ Book of Days” we borrow the following note: —

“Mrs. Oliphant, in her ‘Life of the Rev. Edward Irving,’ states that he

had been on some occasions clearly heard at the distance of half-a-mile.

It has been alleged, however, that Black John Russell, of Kilmarnock,

celebrated by Burns in no gracious terms, was heard, though not

perhaps intelligibly, at the distance of a full mile. It would appear that

even this is not the utmost stretch of the phenomenon. A correspondent

of the Jameson’s Journal, in 1828, states that, being at the west; end of

Dumferline, he overheard part of a sermon then delivering at a tent at

Cairneyhill by Dr. Black: he did not miss a word, ‘though the distance

must be something about two miles:’ the preacher has, perhaps, seldom

been surpassed for distinct speaking and a clear voice: ‘ and the wind,

which was steady and moderate, came in the direction of the sound.’“

Ft3 Chironomia; or, a Treatise on Rhetorical Delivery: comprehending many

precepts, both ancient and modern, for the proper regulation of the

Voice, the Countenance, and Gesture, and a new method for the

notation thereof; illustrated by many figures. By the Reverend Gilbert

Austin A.M. London. 1806. [Quarto.]

ft4 A System of Christian Rhetoric for the Use of Preachers and other

Speakers. By George Winfred Hervey, M.A. Houlston aria Sons, 1873.

ft5 Pulpit Elocution: comprising Remarks on the Effect of Manner in Public

Discourse; title Elements of Elocution, applied to the reading of

Scripture, Hymns, and Sermons; with observations on the Principles of

Gesture; aria a Selection of Exercises in Reading and Speaking. By

William Russell, with an Introduction, by Edwards A. Park, D.D., and

Rev. Edward N. Kirk. Andover [U.S.A.]. 1853.

ft6 M. L’.Abbe Isidore Mullois, in his work, “The Clergy and the Pulpit in

their Relations to the People.”

ft7 Dr. Wardlaw on Proverb..


Many thanks to


Prof. Dr. Benno A. Zuiddam