Conclusion





We approach, at last, the end of our poor attempt. Its purpose has

been to furnish a reminder of some things that are absolutely essential

to the effective preaching of the Gospel. Let us recall the steps by

which we have come thus far upon our way.



And first, it appeared to us that for true preaching you must have the

true preacher; and the true preacher is he who, designated by Nature

and by Divine calling, endowment and baptism, has come to personal

certainty in respect of the great and vital truths committed to his

keeping. Surrendered to God and his work, he nevertheless realises

that among the trusts of which he holds stewardship is that of his own

individuality to be used for the ends he is sent to consummate. He is

a man of understanding gathered in the study of truth; of men; of the

Church; of his own heart; of many other fields of knowledge. He lives

in constant realisation of the greatness of his calling; the sublimity

of his message and the certainty of victory for Israel's side. His

soul is aflame with the passion of his labour; with devotion to his

Master; with a love for his fellows learned at the foot of the cross.

The supreme fact of his life is the fact of his own spiritual

experience and in holy, happy memories he finds continual evidence of

things Divine, and constant inspiration to prosecute his mission to the

end. He is a man whose heart God has touched for the sake of the

world. He is the chosen, qualified, and sworn ambassador of the King

of Kings. He is the very representative and mouthpiece of God and of

the Church to all with whom opportunity shall give him speech. In all

this he is the successor of the first-called and qualified of the

preaching band, making proof of his succession by faithfulness,

holiness and success. Such is the true preacher, whether separated

altogether to the work of the ministry or working with his hands, as

did the greatest preacher of the Apostolic band, that he may "not be

chargeable to any."



From speaking of the messenger we turned to mention what seem to us to

be the notes essential to a complete rendering of the message confided

to him for transmission. The notes of accusation and of pity, of

idealism and edification and cheer all need to be sounded by the

preacher who would go back, at last, to the Lord who sent him with the

joyful boast that he has "not shunned to declare the whole counsel of

God." Not only this, but we heard, as we came along our way, from the

lips of those to whom the preacher would speak, enough to prove that it

is for a message in which these notes are heard that they wait and

listen. The world longs for a Gospel which shall satisfy the mind,

guide the conscience and comfort the heart, the while it shows the way

to the best in the life that is and the life that is to come. Such a

Gospel we have. It remains only that we preach it in all its plenitude

and promise.



"That we preach it":--Of this actual preaching we have also had

something to say, both as to its form and as to certain great

principles to be remembered by the messenger always and everywhere. It

does matter much as to the manner in which the truth is expressed.

It is possible to prevent the glorious results the message should

produce by avoidable faults in the presentation of it. It is the

preacher's duty, for the truth's sake, to make his sermons so

attractive and so interesting that hearers shall not be repelled from

partaking of the Divine provision for hungry and thirsty souls. It is

his duty to make his sermons so simple in phrasing, so intelligible in

arrangement, so luminous by illustration that the average hearer shall

readily understand them. To the arts of persuasion and appeal he must

devote special attention, for the purpose of the sermon is to induce

men to believe and to act upon that belief. He must be a master of

argument and of tact. He must learn to use every occasion; to find and

enter every door; to turn everything to the advantage of his one great

end. The sermon must be at once a work of wisdom, of grace and of art.

It is the preacher's weapon in the warfare of his Lord. How carefully

it should be fashioned; how bright it ought to be, how sharp, to reach

the heart of the King's enemies!



And all these things we have brought to remembrance that, having them

before us, we may be the better able to answer the question with which

we started out:--Whether this preaching of ours is in any way to blame

for that spiritual and moral slide of which we hear so much? Are we

such men as we have seen that preachers ought to be; so surely

designated for our ministry; so wise; so sure; so full of the passion

of our calling? Has the message we have sought to deliver expressed

the whole that God has taught us and provided an answer to the deep

questions and strange perplexing needs of those to whom we have

ministered? Have the sermons in which our message has been set forth

always been the best attempt we could make to reach the ear, subdue the

mind and win the hearts of those who waited upon our utterance? Is

there any need for self-reproach on our part, or can we answer all

these questions with a gladness increasing with each successive reply?

The reader will have a rejoinder ready. We do not ask to hear it. It

will be enough that he whisper it to his own soul and into the ear of

God. It might be of infinite service to the Church and to our fellows

if, one and all, we pushed such an inquisition to an end in our secret

hearts.



There remains now only one word to be added, and that word, the reader

will perhaps have looked for earlier, for in every such discussion as

the present it must come to utterance. For two reasons we have

withheld it until the last and they are these. It is a word with which

every reader will agree, and it is the most important word which can be

spoken or written upon the subject. Is it necessary to say that it has

reference to the deepest and most constant of all the preacher's

needs--the need of the Holy Spirit as an abiding presence in his heart,

his mind, his work? Little did the Master say, as He charged those

early preachers, concerning the methods of their preaching; little also

as to its substance, but many were His words concerning the Holy Ghost

who was to be their teacher, their remembrancer, their comforter and

support. For Him they were to tarry "until the promise be fulfilled."



And they did so tarry, and lo, He came and the young men saw visions

and the old men dreamed dreams! Then, through the lips of plain,

unlettered, toiling men there broke forth a new evangel upon the age

which turned all the currents of the world. New things were spoken;

new ideals lifted up; new hopes proclaimed, but the secret energy of it

all was the new power that thrilled in every word.



New things the world had often heard, hopes, ideals, philosophies; some

one was always bringing such wares to market, as they bring them to

market still; but scarce a ripple on the sea of life did they one and

all produce. These words lived and burned. Life was in them, and

fire! That life and fire were His whose coming had filled the upper

room with wind and flame!



The Holy Ghost in the heart of the preacher, and therefore in his

message, filling every sermon with unction, spirituality, throb,

life--can there be effective and successful preaching without THIS?

No, never; study you never so hard; train you never so carefully; bring

to the work never such talents, such grace of diction, of construction,

of delivery. "It is not by might nor by power, but by My spirit saith

the Lord"!



And yet there is a duty of study and an obligation of training, and

it is incumbent that the most precious of our gifts be polished and

dedicated, that the best possibilities of argument, illustration and

delivery be attained. In preaching, as in all the works and ways of

life, God helps those who help themselves and nothing is worthy but the

noblest and the highest.



The Holy Ghost in the heart of the preacher honoured by the grandest

effort the preacher can make, the utmost faithfulness he can

display:--Can it be possible that in these words the twofold need of

this very hour finds definition? Can we be sure, that if such a

sentence were turned into a prayer, and came back upon us as a gracious

answer to cries that would not be denied, the multitudes would not turn

to us once again? What preaching would there be then; how warm would

be the sanctuary; what a house of healing would it become; what a place

of consolation and encouragement for hard-pressed men; how many

problems would find solution; what visions would form themselves upon

the darkened clouds overhanging many a human life! Preaching would be

a living thing. Can it be possible that here and now LIFE is its

greatest need and that the only way to obtain this life is by a return

to that upper room of long ago? So we end with a question, as with a

question we commenced. Since the world began it has been by the asking

of questions that men have come to truth.





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