Congregations must justify their existence. If they only bring people together to be very much pleased, why, the lecture bureaus will contract for all that. Did you worship? Were you edified? Did the Lord speak to you? Did you speak to Him? Do you mean more seriously to be pure, honest, upright, generous, manly, holy, from what you did and heard to-day? These are the questions which the best part of mankind feel to be proper, and to which we must have affirmative replies.
Culture is good, genius is brilliant, civilization is a blessing, education is a great privilege; but we may be educated villains. The thing that we want most of all is the precious gift of the Holy Ghost.
Keep clear of personalities in conversation. Talk of things, objects, thoughts. The smallest minds occupy themselves with persons. Do not needlessly report ill of others. As far as possible, dwell on the good side of human beings. There are family boards where a constant process of depreciating, assigning motives, and cutting up character goes forward. They are not pleasant places. One who is healthy does not wish to dine at a dissecting table. There is evil enough in man, God knows. But it is not the mission of every young man and woman to detail and report it all. Keep the atmosphere as pure as possible, and fragrant with gentleness and charity.
Settle in your mind, that no sermon is worth much in which the Lord is not the principal speaker. There may be poetry, refinement, historic truth, moral truth, pathos, and all the charms of rhetoric; but all will be lost, for the purposes of preaching, if the word of the Lord is not the staple of the discourse.
The minister who would be most like the Master must go and, like Him, lay the warm, kindly hand on the leper, the diseased, the wretched. He must touch the blind eyes with something from himself. The tears must be in his own eyes over the dead who are to be raised to spiritual life. Jesus is our great exemplar.
There is evil enough in man, God knows; but it is not the mission of every young man and woman to detail and report it all. Keep the atmosphere as pure as possible, and fragrant with gentleness and charity.
To get, then, the mind of Christ, and to declare it, is the primary end of the teaching offices of the church. The living body of sympathetic men, saturated with the truth and feeling of the Book, must bring it into contact with other men, through that marvelous organ, the human voice, and with such aid as comes from the subtle sympathy that pervades assemblies of human beings.
When the Father would give men the light of the knowledge of His glory, how does He proceed? To what does He turn mens gaze? Not to His mighty works; not to creative or providential wonders; not to geological or astronomical facts; not to the data on which Paley and Bell and other admirable writers build up their argument from design; not to the still greater wonder of mind, but to the face of Jesus Christ, that face that was more marred than any mans; that endured the ruffian blows; down which the blood drops trickled; that looked down on a mocking crowd from an ignominious cross.