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By what means can the educated classes be induced once more to join in public worship? Even at the very time when aversion to this worship arose, such a delusion was prevalent, that Marezoll, a very popular preacher, advised his brethren to present fewer and fewer of those positive truths of Christianity, for which the cultivated cherish unconquerable dislike; thus, in homeopathic fashion, proposing to cure the unbelief of the hearer by the unbelief of the preacher. The time of this delusion has gone by. Many now feel that the preacher, if he would fill the church, must enter it as a man called to unfold the mysteries of God. Faith, however, is not the only thing necessary in order to win back our educated classes to the service of the sanctuary.
We must extend the hand toward the despisers of religion among the learned. One important reason why evangelical preachers often fail to attract this class, is, that they speak froin the circle of faith to those standing within that circle, thus rendering themselves unintelligible to those without it. The power of habit in the form and style of the sermon has an injurious influence. Although Scripture truth presented in this forın bore blessed fruits for centuries, yet it was at a period when faith was a vital element in the religion of the people. This period, for the middle and higher classes, is almost entirely past. To them the Bible narratives are a fable-world, illuminated by a magical mingling of light and shade.
In order to make apparent the difference between the past and the present, the past should be recalled. Let the preacher, as was then common, request his people to bring their Bibles with them, in order to satisfy themselves that he declares not the word of man, but that of the eternal God. And to estabJish the truth on every important point, let him call on them to open at the text he cites. “This is altogether too simple," the cultivated ladies and gentlemen would exclaim.
We ought not, however, to find fault with them on this account, because for many of then there is no longer any word of God. In this circle there is at most only traditional faith enough to allow the minister to open the Bible and read from it a proof-text. And even this inany look upon as a stage stroke for effect. The preacher must therefore begin
and build anew. Not that he should come out from the strong, high tower of his faith founded upon revelation, and descend to that wide, treeless desert where one is driven hither and thither by the rising and falling winds of doctrine. But he should turn in a friendly way toward those wandering in the mazes of error, and invitingly point them to the path leading to this tower of faith.
To accomplish this, there is needed a clear and attractive exposition of Scripture. George Müller wished he could lose all memory of the Scriptures, so that, studying the classics down to Pliny and Seneca, and coming freshly to the Bible, he could observe how it would then appear to him.
Reverence for the sacred oracles, is connected in numerous minds with hallowed reminiscences of the past. There is many a one who has seen the gray head of his father bowed in family devotion, and upon whom his mother, when he was a child, was wont to lay her hand in prayer—to whom a choral of Bach, or a cathedral like that of Cologne, has given the impression that a religion which calls forth such creations, must contain some germ of truth. Let the preacher regard such reminiscences as sacred, and weave them into his dis
The wish expressed by George Müller, a truly excellent man, whom a pious mother taught to lisp the name of his heavenly, at the same time with that of his earthly father, has been to many among the learned more or less unconsciously fulfilled. For such ones let the preacher expound the Scriptures, looking for hearts which, rejecting the divine, are open only to what is human. Thus, here and there, Herder has done, except that like Chateaubriand, he has exhibited the beauties of the Christian religion rather than its eternal truth. The same, yet in loftier flights, has been done by Schleiermacher for those still farther estranged. No one of later times has been so much as he the preacher of religion to the learned among its despisers. That there is something more in Christianity than in the beautiful fables of antiquity—that it is a reality enduring beyond all time-for the knowledge of this truth, many are indebted to Schleiermacher, who afterward obtained a deeper experience.
From Schleiermacher, the preacher among the educated can learn much. For the work of the ministry the most lileral culture is essential, as well as the nicest discernment. At a time, when for many, Shakespeare is higher authority than Paul-when a single distich of Goëthe has more weight than the whole Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians; at such a time if a preacher would have influence over his congregation, he should not be unacquainted with their authorities. If anywhere, certainly here may the words of the Apostle be applied : “All things are yours.”
An English divine was found one Saturday studying Gibbon. On being questioned concerning this, he replied : “If I belong to Christ, Gibbon is surely mine, and a harvest-field that bears fruit for my master."
On this point the preacher of our times is met by that mode of thinking which can hardly make wide enough the separation between common life and the pulpit. For this reason, preaching appears to educated minds, pedantic, formal, mummy-like. “Even the word Russia has been used in the pulpit,” complains a sensitive reviewer.
In opposition to such purists, one might be tempted to exclaim with Harms:
“6thly. Let the preacher speak negligently and incor
I do not, however, here allude merely to the approximation of the language of the pulpit to that of common life, though in this respect, too, I am of the opinion of Harms, but also of the doctrine of the pulpit, the two being connected. If we would win back our educated men and bring them under the influence of the pulpit we must not avoid there, any more than in every-day conversation, a reference to those scenes among which life is spent. If the homilists complain of and condemn us, Paul, who in Athens quoted Aratus in his discourse, and among the Cretans, Epimenides, will be our protection. One of the advantages thereby gained is an increase of confidence in the preacher. He no longer appears to us a man of the sacred caste, who speaks from the schools, but with us, he has experienced the trials of a difficult and
* Treatise on Speaking with Tongues, p. 824.
troublous time. It is not the preacher, but the man, who speaks to us.
In order to make the understanding of Scripture more easy and attractive for this class—instead of preaching upon single texts, the homily, and still more, the connected exposition of the sacred books is desirable. Sermons from individual, isolated texts, have contributed not a little to strengthen the opinion that the Bible is only the magical background, of whose ancient religious gloom the preacher makes use to heighten the effect without ever daring approach it.
And, indeed, would not many a preacher feel himself under constraint if, instead of the single text to which he appends his remarks, it were required of him to present fully and clearly all he knows and believes concerning an extended portion of Scripture. This method of sermonizing, however, would tend to establish a more personal relation between the preacher and his audience. The more particular the exposition, the more will his dependence upon the Bible be manifest, and the more will disappear those miserable common-places and that vague, essay-like style which now make many sermons so tedious.
Let it also be considered what a very great. want of knowledge of the Bible there is in the present generation of hearers. Apart from that abundance, nay, that superabundance of catechetical and biblical instruction which we find in the schools of former centuries, how must the mere habit of church-going have extended the knowledge of the Bible!
With this was also connected a far greater use of church history, and a fuller comprehension of the various old ecclesiastical forms which yet exist, but upon which the educated inodern looks with smiles of wonder, just as the listener in the English Parliament, in the midst of a crowd among whom is seen nothing but what is new, looks upon the long peruke of the speaker.
With what increased interest will his hearers attend, when the preacher is prepared to make them acquainted with the origin of the present mode of divine worship, to inform them what relation the sermon bears to the edification, and to explain the object of the blessing and the benedic
tion, to speak of the right kind of church order and church discipline!
One of the most pressing necessities of the times is to prove that divine service does not consist in the sermon alone. So long as the Protestant, satisfied with his sermon, undervalues the singing and prayer, as, on the other hand, the Catholic, satisfied with his mass, undervalues the sermon, so long public worship cannot again flourish among us. But the preacher must endeavor, so far as possible, to conform the devotional parts of divine service to the wants of a cultivated taste. Oh, how have the beautiful words, church and congregation, lost their significance among us Protestants ! Let us learn once more to comprehend their import—then shall we again feel
So much as to what should be said. Let us now consider the manner of saying it. On this point, Harms has expressed himself so admirably in his “ Treatise on Speaking with Tongues,” that I earnestly wish his words might find a loud echo in the hearts of all young preachers. “The source of right preaching," says he, “is the Spirit—the Holy Spirit, and he who preaches by His assistance preaches in the way I mean--preaches, as I call it, with tongues."
That our sermons are made, that they do not grow out of the fulness of the heart in the presence of God, is the chief reason why they do not hit the mark, why they do not new create. Says Pindar, the Nemean poet, “He who would speak, must first breathe.”
But not merely must the production of the sermon be inspired by the Holy Spirit-its delivery should be so likewise. It is difficult to express the vast difference between the effect of a sermon delivered from memory, excellent as it may be in other respects, and that of one born for the second time in a more living inspiration. Did we Germans, in other religious services besides that of the sanctuary, know more of that power which the Word, directly inspired by the Spirit, exercises upon the hearer, above the word delivered from memory, we should be still less satisfied with the presentation of a lifeless preparation.
The sermon must be a creation of the preacher in his study