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52

The Mind in Youth and Age.

straight line; and, as the hound pursues the hare without looking around right or left, so such minds pursue an idea, and sometimes when they catch it they almost kill it. Still they have their use. They are logical, severely logical; though the skeletons they form are so dry that one may well ask: “Can these dry bones live?” Other minds, however, see a whole platoon of thoughts, usually one advancing something in the character of a captain, while the others are mere privates. Such men write and speak fervidly. They deck with jewels their favourite idea, and cover it with a profusion of ornaments. They are rich in illustration, abundant in metaphors, and their imagery is so luxuriant that the main idea gets lost in the foliage and escapes them utterly. In listening to them, you are bewildered, and cannot tell what is meant. Habit largely influences and controls us; but I think the ordinary law is that, without careful study and constant culture, not only is the succession of thoughts more sluggish in age, but the width of the platoon is also diminished. Age may think more correctly, but less ornamentally; and the common mind is pleased with illustrations, figures, and ornaments. Grander stores of knowledge and broader views of life are needed by the aged to compensate for the diminution of the power to charm and impress.

There is another reason why the young minister is sometimes preferred. The human mind has a love for noticing development or growth. We love the beauty of the morning. From the clear sky we anticipate a bright and beautiful day. The noon hour brings with it the thought of declination. We wander through the garden, and the opening bud is more beautiful than the full-blown rose. With the former there is the thought of beauty with the added thought of increasing beauty ; but with the full-blown rose comes the idea of decay. So, too, in realms of business, men prefer investing in growing towns rather than in older ones.

They purchase corner-lots, not because of their value to-day, but for what it is supposed they will be worth ten years hence. So is it with the ministry. Men love to hear the young minister, for, they say, he preaches a fine sermon, and he will preach better by-and-bye. They take stock in him not

Counsels for Young Preachers.

53

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because of what he is, but of what he will be. They admire his utterances not merely because of what they are, but for the promise they give of coming oratory. So, because of this feeling, they prefer him to the man who is fully developed, and whose real value to-day may be much greater. But if that young man rests his laurels; if he fails to progres in his. studies ; if he preaches the same sermon ten years afterwards, the church will regret its investment, because the anticipated rise is not realized. It may be illustrated by what we find in our own families. The little child just beginning to speak is an object of admiration and delight. The first time he says

Ma” distinctly, the family is enraptured ; and when he is able to pronounce his first sentence, they pat him on the head, and clap their hands for joy. They call him a coming genius; but if ten years pass away, and he makes no improvement in his speech, it will not be on the head they will pat him.

While the young minister should be guarded against selfconceit, he is also to be cautioned against discouragement. Eminence is not gained at once. The orators of to-day, like the orators of old, struggle with difficulties. The preacher who seems to speaks with ease and power has gained his position by long-continued effort. The work he does to-day is not of to-day. Sir Joshua Reynolds was requested, it is said, by a nobleman to paint for him a picture of his daughter. The picture was. completed, and the bill presented, amounting to fifty guineas. The nobleman objected to paying so large a price, saying that it cost the artist the labour only of a few days. Sir Joshua replied that he was mistaken. It had taken him him forty years to paint that picture. So the sermon of to-day, or the work of to-day, though just planned or executed, is really the work of years of thorough culture.

I presume there are but few young men ho have not felt a sense of discouragement when listening to the effort of superior thinkers or orators. They should remember, however, first, that possibly they may equal these orators, or thinkers, at some future period, and their example should be a stimulus; secondly, that God gives but few such men to His Church, and

54

The First Year of Preaching.

there is plenty of room for earnest workers, even if not so highly talented.

Let me again speak of myself. The only severe temptation I ever had to quit the active work of the ministry was during my first year of preaching. A church was finished on the circuit on which I travelled, and an eminent minister was called to the dedication. He was a man of great mental power, an acute and original thinker, but of delicate health. For some years he had been troubled with doubts and perplexities, partly owing to his ill-health and partly to some Unitarian works which he had read. But now his health had' improved, and he had emerged from his doubts into a clear, strong faith, and he was enjoying the sacred influence of the Holy Spirit. During the services, he preached five sermons full of thought, most forcible in expression, and accompanied with divine unction. I thought then that I had never heard such sermons, and I still think that I have heard but few equal to them. The effect upon me was one of humiliation and discouragement. I felt that I had no right to stand in the sacred desk, and utter my thoughts, when the services of such men could be secured. I resolved to close my connection with the circuit at the end of the year. I did not dare to think of ceasing to preach; but I thought I would be a local preacher. I would support myself by another profession, and preach whenever and wherever I could find a place to do good. I mentioned my purpose to but one friend, who hạd heard these sermons as well as myself, and he protested most emphatically against my leaving. Before

year closed, I had a most interesting service, at which I invited a brother minister, one year older than myself, to preach, though I knew nothing of his qualifications. The congregation was unusually large and intelligent. Before he had proceeded far, I discovered that I had made a mistake. His thoughts were crude and disjointed, and he murdered the king's English. I was deeply mortified. I got my head down behind the pulpit, and as he proceeded it got lower and

I was chagrined and vexed, and said to myself, “As long as the Church has room for such ministers, I will stay

the

An unconscious Benefactor.

55

and preach on.” It was the last temptation I ever had. Since I have been bishop, it has been my lot to give that minister an appointment. He has never excelled as a preacher. Though I have kept his name strictly to myself, I never meet him without feeling a sense of gratitude to him, for through his stumbling, though without knowing it, he was the cure of my discouragement.

INDIRECT PREPARATION FOR THE

PULPIT.

EVERY work of importance demands preparation. As preaching is the most exalted duty which God has devolved upon men, it requires the most thorough qualifications. Yet there are a few persons who claim that the minister is to speak without premeditation. They profess to obey the declaration of our Saviour to His disciples : " Take no thought how or what you shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye

shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” This direction, however, was given only to those who were delivered into the hands of governors and kings to be scourged and bound for their faith. It was given also only to those who were miraculously endowed, and to whom Christ had given power over unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of diseases. Hence, the direction is applicable only in the present day to such as can show similar power, or who are arrested and brought before migistrates for Christ's sake. Those who speak without premeditation claim that they thus honour the Holy Spirit, and that they rely not on their own knowledge, or argument, or eloquence; but on divine inspiration. I would not for one moment depreciate the office or influence of the Holy Spirit, 'nor the promised presence of Christ with His disciples; but the work of preaching has an analogy to other work which God requires men to perform. The farmer prepares the ground, procures the desired seed, sows it properly, and carefully protects the growing crops ; yet God alone gives the harvest. He has put life into the seed, and waters

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