Page images

of Christ-a crucified Saviour. Salvation, the Bible, a hope in Jesus, are infinitely more important to them than physical improvements or intellectual advancement—than railroads, telegraphs, and all the gold of California and Australia. And this is our work and labor of love to make known to men the truth as it is in Jesus; to follow humbly in the footsteps of our Master and preach the gospel to the poor, and to all to whom we may gain access. “The field is the world.” In our churches and the communities where we dwell-among the destitute in our land, and in far distant heathen nations and tribes-we may be workers together with God, sending the gospel to all, as he gives us ability. Providence is opening effectual doors, lead. ing into vast fields where we may enter and sow the seed of the kingdom. Idolatry, error, and false religion will spread unless the gospel in its purity be diffused as the chief counteracting and supplanting influence. And in this work of evangelization, there is a peculiar obligation resting on those who, in matters of religious belief and practice, reject all mere human authority, and, with a conscientious and unswerving regard for the teachings of Divine truth, acknowledge “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

3. How great the guilt of the rejecter of Christ! To despise such a Saviour, to trample upon such mercy, and turn from the pleadings of such love, as the gospel presents, must insure an awful doom. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?” “He that despised Moses' law died without mercy.” How aggravated then, will be the punishment of him who perishes under the gospel. Come, O sinner, to Christ! He has rendered your salvation possible--certain if you believe. As certain will be your ruin if you believe not. You must reap as you have sown.

4. How glorious the prospect of the believer in Jesus! They who have followed him in the regeneration, who have fellowship with his sufferings, who remember his commandments to do them, shall share in the infinite goodness of his grace and love. No blessing will be withheld. Nothing shall deprive them of his favor and their heavenly inheritance. All things are theirs -lile, death-the present, the future. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Trusting in the Son of his love, he will surely do for us all we need. "God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then,” adds the apostle, “ being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." Great and precious are the Divine promises, full of encouragement and hope to the disciples of Jesus. God's people are his heritage and care. They shall never be left without a comforter and guide. The Saviour has gone to prepare a place for them, and he will come again and receive them to himself. “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."

That day fast approaches. Its highest glory will consist not in the unparalleled scenes and events that will attend it—the vast and shining array of accompanying angels; the dazzling splendors of the great white throne; the sound of the archangel's trumpet exceeding loud, waking all the dead; the sublime exhibition of omnipotent power witnessed in the resurrection; the wrapping earth in a sheet of flame, and rolling the heavens together as a scroll-not in any or all these will the Son of God find his highest and peculiar honors ; but rather in his ransomed people ; for he will come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe ! We know much of Christ in this world. We are united to him by faith. His presence and blessing are with us, and our lives are hid with him in God. Still, we know but in part here-we see through a glass darkly. But the day cometh when we shall see face to face and know as we are known. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory." O, in that day, free from imperfection and sin, we shall see in the great propitiation new beauties and enrapturing glories. Our eyes will rest on new attractions at Bethlehem. Our undying interest in Gethsemane will grow deeper and more intense. Calvary will be surrounded by a more resplendent halo of glory. The Cross will furnish exbaustless lessons that we may study with increasing interest through the ages of eternity. The tomb where Jesus lay, and whence he rose triumphant, will shine as the gate of Paradise. And Olivet's summit of ascension will be tipped with the golden sunlight of heaven. Though these places as literal localities will have passed away, yet in their spiritual significance, as connected with the great truths of our religion, they will remain forever; and, as we contemplate our interests associated therewith from the serene heights of immortality, all our admiration of their value and glory will centre in CARIST ALONE.




“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.

It is an undeniable fact that the pulpit greatly sympathizes with and is powerfully affected by the peculiar type of the times in which it is called to exercise its ministrations. It is right and best that it should be so to a certain extent. There is profound philosophy as well as simple doctrine in the gospel; and he is the most effective preacher who knows how to wield that philosophy so as best to adapt and enforce the doctrine. There is a high sense in which the preacher must be a man of the times, to make his influence felt. But there is danger, extreme danger, lest the pulpit, instead of controlling and moulding the age to the true type of the gospel, suffer itself to be swayed by and conformed to the age. And this would be fatal to its power and success. The preacher who is only a man of the times—who bodies forth in his ministry only the popular sentiment and type of life--is not a preacher who wins souls to Christ. The gospel in all its facts and doctrines, is one and the same in all ages. One spirit animates it-one life pervades it all. And no ministry is or can be effective which fails to set forth that gospel in its essential facts and doctrines, spirit and life. So long as the Bible remains the only Divinely inspired book, and so long as it shall please God by the foolishness of preaching to save sinners, so long must this ancient, and, in the judgment of not a few, antiquated book, be the one theme, one inspiration, one type and lite of the Christian ministry. He is the wisest and most successful minister who so comprehends and is able to seize upon the public mind of his day—the peculiar phases of thought and life which characterize his times--as to infuse into the great mind and heart of the world inost of the doctrine and life of the Divine Word.

THE KIND OF PREACHING NEEDED BY THE PRESENT AGE, is the subject I have chosen as appropriate to this occasion. I shall allow myself a considerable latitude in the discussion of it; and

Preached at the ordination of Rev. Stephen G. Dodd, at Milford, Ct., Oct. 20, 1862.

I claim the right to express my views freely on the subject, even at the risk of being thought censorious and fault-finding.

I. Is there not a great and growing deficiency in that kind of preaching which this age of the world imperatively demands ? I am among the number who believe, unpopular as the doctrine is

in many quarters, that the evangelical Pulpit has undergone, · and is now undergoing, a serious and important changema

change on the whole for the worse, and truly alarming. In many respects it has unquestionably improved. There is less stiffness and dryness ; less regard shown for human authority ; less of the technicality and formula of the schools. There is more freedom and directness and boldness: there is a truer philosophy in many quarters, and often a better theology: a more popular and therefore effective exhibition of truth: a new fraternizing of the ministry with the people, and of the gospel with the masses: a wider range of thought and of the principles of Christianity in their social relations. There is more unction, more learning and literature, a higher rhetoric and oratory in the Pulpit of the present day, probably, than in any previous age.

And yet, after admitting all this, and more, if you please, is it not true that the Pulpit has lost, and is daily losing, that Scripture character and moral power in which its real strength and saving efficiency mainly consist? There is more of human wis. dom and might, but less of the simple word and power of God in it. What preaching has gained in the particulars I have named, has it not more than lost in Scriptural simplicity and plainness-in piety and spirituality-in a divine ambition and unction; in that straightforward, honest, earnest dealing with sinners' consciences, which characterized the preaching of a past generation? A worldly ambition has crept into the pulpit to a fearful extent; mere talent is worshipped. The pride of learning and genius, the pride of science and philosophy, and the pride of popular oratory is rampant: There is an effort at greatness, a straining at originality, a showy ambitious rhetoric, a display of human parts and accomplishments, in sad keeping with the spirit and end of the gospel. There is, it cannot be denied, a great, a growing, and an alarming deficiency in that preaching which is a simple exhibition of God's Word. It is only necessary for a man of intelligence to put himself in a favorable position to observe and mark the flow of the popular current on this subject, especially as it is seen in our great cities and centres of influence, to see and feel the truth of this remark.

Compare the published sermons of the present day with the sermons of the old divines, and what a contrast ! There is more of the spirit and power of the Bible in a single volume of Luther, or Baxter, or Edwards, than in a hundred of our day. Let any one examine the twenty-six volumes of the “ American National Preacher.” Here are about seven hundred sermons from distinguished ministers of the various evangelical denominations in this country, which may be taken as a fair exhibition of the American Pulpit for more than a quarter of a century. One thing will strike the mind with painful surprise, on a careful examination of the work, viz., the manifest falling off in what may be called Bible preaching. The “Preacher” holds its own, it may be, as to talent, learning, literature, accomplishment --in all that constitutes the intellectual and the esthetic--but, alas ! in deep piety and spirituality, in an earnest pleading with sinners, in moral power, as to the marrow and fatness of the gospel, one is constrained to say, "O the leanness, the leanness !" It does one's soul good to read the sermons in the earlier volumes from the peps of Mason, Green, Griffin, Alexander, Beecher, Rice, Skinner, Woods, Porter, Hyde, Dickinson, Spring, Humphrey, Fiske, Clarke, and Miller, and others like them, who then gave tone and power to our pulpit. There is an affluence of Scripture thought, language and illustration, a depth of Christian experience, a divine unction, a power of appeal, a grappling with the conscience, a masterly exhibition and appli. cation of the simple Word of God, that will move any man and stir the soul within him. And the successive Conductors of that highly useful work all complain of the difficulty of getting sermons of a Scriptural or practical character. While it were easy to obtain what are termed in the popular language of the times, “ talented” sermons, “ brilliant” sermons, “original" sermons, "learned and elaborate " sermons, “ finished and polished” sermons, in any quantity, it is almost impossible to draw forth sermons so imbued with the spirit and power of the Bible as to be likely to convert souls, and feed and nourish a Scripture piety in the church. Either such sermons are not commonly preached now a days, or their authors have no confidence in them, and are ashamed to print them. There are some noble exceptions to this remark, and, what is a significant fact, they belong mainly to the older portion of the ministry. The change I speak of is more marked and common among our younger brethren, showing a serious defect either in their theological training, or in the models after which their pulpit taste and style have been formed.

Not long since, a godly and able minister said to a brother, "O that my pastor would give us something beside pretty flow. ers, and brilliant periods, and intellectual treats, and lofty flights of eloquence; my soul is famishing for the bread of life I long for something simple, nourishing, substantial.” And yet that pastor occupies a very distinguished place among our younger preachers, and is the model after which not a few of them are seeking to form their own preaching.

This class of facts, and I apprehend the observation of you all will confirm and add to it, goes to show that there is a

« PreviousContinue »