Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

mind gains the victory. Fox, the greatest of modern orators, conquered by means of feeling,—to whose impetuous torrent it was willingly forgiven that all the waves did not form waving lines. And if there, where the worldly interests of a commercial people cause the calculating understanding to spread all its sails,-if there the force of eloquence and the power of feeling obtain such conquests, how much greater will be the victory upon an arena where the orator has, in the hearts of his hearers, the Holy Spirit for an ally.

To all this, one thing more has to be added. The sermon should grow out of the circumstances of the flock. There are sermons which have their origin without the flock, and sermons which spring up within it. The first are those which the preacher forms in accordance with the common maxims of homiletics, and also with the idea of a Christian sermon of ecclesiastical times and seasons.

Thus he will continue to do so long as no living reciprocity of relation exists between himself and his people.

It is otherwise when the Sabbath sermon is the echo of experiences which his visitings through the parish during the week have enabled him to gather. The more the sermon is the result of this, the more individual, the more local, the more pertinent will it be. As it has its origin in the life of the flock, it will also serve to increase still more that life. The first consideration I have named shonld not be excluded from the sermon, but it should embrace this second, or be connected with it. Then will preaching without the pulpit furnish the true enlivening material for preaching in the pulpit.

But here rises up again that grim spectre of the general rules of pulpit style and pulpit decorum, which frightens back every particular application springing up in the mind of the pastor. If, however, the preacher only bears the souls of his flock upon his heart,--if he sorrows and rejoices with them, he is in a condition to exclaim with Paul, “ Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak and I am not weak ? Who is offended and I burn not?” Then the monotonous, essay-like tones, soaring far above the heads and hearts of the people, will disappear; the sermon will cease to be a formal myself to the custom which in our days proscribes this kind of homily; yet I go on in the usual course with constraint. I have a special aversion to the violence done to the connection of Scripture in the common treatment of a text. Yet if we take the parts logically derived from its fundamental idea, and then attach to this logical division, in a neat, beautiful, and even rhythmical fashion, the separate parts of the text, such violence will often hardly be avoided. How frequently will it be with the preacher who is frittering away his powers on this artificial structure of the sermon, as with the poet whose rhymes are not at hand; the spirit's bloom is withering. Hence Jean Paul wrote poetry in prose.

[graphic]

In many other respects, also, I have not found it best to make use of the freedom which in the preceding remarks is required for the sermon, and in which I should, under other circumstances, have indulged myself. Since my duties as a preacher are only the smallest part of my calling, I have generally been unable to bestow that labor upon my sermons which he is able to give them whose duties find their central point in his weekly sermon. All this may serve as an apology for the imperfections which exist in them.

In one point only, as I think, have I met the expressed requisitions. They are not formal preparations which I lay before my people, but spontaneous outgushings, created in the study and born anew in the pulpit. Nor have they had their origin without the flock, but within it. The experiences of the preceding week among the members of the congregation have almost always been the birthplace of the leading idea of the sermon.

This circumstance may be my explanation, and will justify me if the same materials are used more than once. eral rule that there should not be a repetition either in the subject-matter or in the use of set phrases should be applied to sermons with discretion. In the language of books, repetition should be avoided; but in the language of life, the pulsation of love is often revealed by it. “ To write the same things to yon, to me, indeed, is not grievous; but for you it is safe.”

Only let these repetitions not be presentations of different copies of one and the same idea, but continually new produc

The gen.

tions occasioned by new experieivonces ;-only let them not be artificial flowers wbich upon eve ery new festive occasion are brought down again out of their es class-case for exhibition, but repetitions like those of nature, wlinich brings forth anew erery spring the same leaves and flowers. 4

God has given me many proofs that these discourses, when they were spoken, were not spoken to the wind. May he now also accompany, the written word with the blessing which he has promised.

Art. II.Heathen Views on the Golden Age, etc., compared

with the Bible.

The question as to the primeval state of man has assumed immense importance in our days. Mr. Darwin recognizes, indeed, the divine hand in the primitive creation, but sees no necessity of a divine agency in the subsequent development of the countless kinds of plants and animals from the four or five original forms or types; nor were these subsequent developments potentially inclosed in the original types, as the oaktree in the acorn, waiting only for the action of certain agencies, as heat, light, moisture, etc., in order to develop from potentiality into reality. All this took place by mere “natnral selection.” Whether man is also a development from the same source and by the same cause, or not, Mr. Darwin does not say ; but many of his followers have thrown off the reserve of their master, denying an original creation altogether, and including man in the same process of developinent, while others give us to understand, that it is merely by grace that they do not yet hold these same positions, in order to let the Bible and the faith in it live a few years or decades longer. Many learned questions about the origin of life by a generatio æquivoca, or whether life is eternal, abont the origin of human speech, etc., which the Bible answers as positively as it does rationally, are discussed, as if there were no such thing as the

« ElőzőTovább »