Imatges de pÓgina
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There are, however, some ministers to whom pastoral visiting is not of great service. They have been accustomed to mingle with people; they enjoy society, shake hands with everyone, and are at home everywhere. Such men need their books more than they need society. They are living, earnest, pleasing preachers; but are seldom profound and solid thinkers. Their congregations love to meet them; but they think more of their conversation at the fireside than they do of their work in the pulpit. Such ministers may be met at almost every funeral, and have time to go to the cemetery, even though it be three or four miles distant. They attend every festival and are found at every public and social gathering. Sometimes young ministers, who behold a radiant glory in Gospel truth, are repelled from visiting by the superficial character of the pulpit discourses of this class of men. Yet they should remember that these men do but little of true pastoral work. They call familiarly in various families, and join in jokes and laughter, sit down sometimes and smoke cigars, and are ready to take part in any recreation or game; but leave without a word spoken for Jesus, or a prayer offered in behalf of the family. Seldom are such men found in the cabins of the poor, by the bedside of the sick, or in conversation with the prodigal young man, who is breaking the hearts of his father and mother, and is wandering into paths of sin. Seldom is he found pleading with such an one to reform his life and to turn to the Saviour. Seldom is he found in earnest conversation endeavouring to bring comfort and consolation to the suffering widow. Seldom is he found visiting the man of business, who is in deep embarrassment and distress, and whose heart is wrung with agony, under the pressure of difficulties and responsibilities. As the result of long observation, I am satisfied that those who are the closest students and are by nature the most timid, become the best pastors when they conquer themselves and instruct the faithful from house to house. For they go not to spend the moments in trivial conversation; but they go under the conviction that Christ has sent them as His servants and in His stead, to carry His benediction to the households. They tell of the wonderful love of Christ,

The Example of Christ.


and of the exhaustless store of spiritual riches in reserve for those who love Him. They are quick to extend a helping hand to their brothers, and to lift up the lowly, the discouraged, and the sorrowing.

What had the Lord Jesus been to us if we had only the record of His sermons without the record of His going about doing good? We would listen to His words as voices from above; but our hearts are drawn closer to Him when we behold Him opening the eyes of the blind, and stooping to touch the leper shut out from society by his loathsome disease. It is then the heavens kissing the earth. It is God in contact with the human soul.

In such a record Jesus becomes Immanuel-God with us. I think the love of Jesus touches the human heart more than the great truths which He uttered. Both were necessary. Without truth, the human soul would not have been elevated. Without the corresponding love, that truth would not have borne such a rich fruitage. If the young preacher desires to be a true successor of the apostles, let him imitate the plan and work of Jesus, and follow the apostles as they followed their glorious Master.

You will not fancy, I know, that I underrate the value of close and diligent study. But when I take my New Testament in my hands I find the Saviour and His apostles teaching the people, visiting the sick, healing the wretched, comforting the sorrowing, and being much in prayer; but I find not a single direction how to write a sermon, or how to read it, or how to manage the voice and gestures so as to be counted an eloquent orator. They had the truth by direct inspiration; we must study to attain it. But, with that truth given, they seem to have thought of nothing but going forth, burning, shining, and blessing, in all the glory of the Gospel of glad tidings, and, without one thought of appearance or manner, simply presented the truth so as to touch the hearts and consciences of the people. As Christ and His disciples did not dwell at all upon what occupies the minds of so many young ministers, so I fear that many think but little of what burns in the hearts of Christ and His apostles.

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There are a few large churches where the congregations are so immense and the membership is so numerous that it seems impossible for the pastor to know his people. Such is Spurgeon's church, with its five thousand membership; and such are a few large congregations in our principal cities. The pastoral work in such cases is performed by assistants employed by the pastor of the congregation. There are some young men who feel so conscious of their superior power, who have such premonitions of coming greatness, that, imitating the example of these distinguished ministers, they resolve to devote themselves wholly to their studies and to preaching, to spend their lives in something more noble than visiting people. Such young men should remember that these eminent ministers began either in country places or with small congregations. So far as I am acquainted with the men who build these mammoth institutions, they began at the bottom of the ladder, studied with the common people, preached and worked with the common people, and in this way gained that knowledge of human nature which enabled them to gather immense congregations around them. Such men as Spurgeon and Beecher began at the bottom of the ladder, in a country place, and climbed up. The young man who begins at the top of the ladder invariably climbs down.

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THE range of a preacher's work is widely extended. His chief labour is in the pulpit, and in pastoral visiting among the members. There are, however, many collateral fields which he must cultivate, and some of them are essential to the stability and growth of his congregation.

Closely connected with preaching is the offering of public prayer. This service should be conducted with that reverence which will show the deep piety of the minister, and which will inspire the people with solemnity and devotion. Prayer should issue from a heart which feels its own wants, and which is in sympathy with the wants of the congregation. In this service, thanksgiving should occupy a prominent place, both because of the multitude of mercies personally received, and as a congregation, and because the spirit of thanksgiving is always appropriate. The people should be reminded of the blessings which they constantly enjoy, because there is such a tendency to murmur or complain at the lot which we occupy. Among the Jews sacrifice and thanksgiving were required under the law, and the Psalmist frequently exhorts to come before God with thanksgiving. In the New Testament we are taught: "With thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." There should also be the confession of sins-personal, social, and national; the deprecation of God's wrath, and prayer for pardon through the atoning merits of Christ; and the expression of trust in the willingness and power of the Great Father to bless and save. Prayer should be offered in such a reverential spirit

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that the people shall feel that the minister is conscious of the presence of the great Jehovah, and that the Holy Spirit is already communicating with his heart. No words indicating a lack of reverence, no expressions of familiarity, no real address to the people under the garb of prayer, should be employed; and even the name of the Deity should be so uttered as to indicate the solemn awe with which even a redeemed spirit should approach before the Throne. The preacher's evident access to the Mercy Seat inspires the hearts of the people. He utters petitions for what his own heart needs; and while he prays for himself, many an aching heart is comforted under the power of his pathetic, fervent prayer. He also enters into the sympathies of the people, and, in their name, and in their place, pours out earnest supplication for needed mercy. This spirit of prayer prepares the hearts of the people for the reception of the Word. As the minister prays, in the consciousness of his own weakness, for divine help; as he pleads for the presence and power of the great Head of the Church; as he prays that the people may receive the truth which he is about to utter, and that the Holy Spirit, by its sacred influences, may rest upon every one the spirit of prayer descends also upon the congregation. Thus brought into the immediate presence of God, they too look for the purifying influence of the Blessed Spirit, and their hearts are brought into sympathy with the speaker. To some extent they feel the pressure of his great thoughts. The burden which lies on his heart is in part transferred to them. They spend the hour in worshipping God "in the beauty of holiness," and much of the profit of the service comes from the hallowing influence of the prayer which has been offered.

That the minister may have the true spirit of prayer in the pulpit, he will need to cultivate secret prayer also. It is in his closet that the divine power is gained which manifests itself in the midst of public duty. Our Saviour says: "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet. And when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." In harmony with this is the beautiful language of the Psalmist: "He that

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