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favor with the American people. Pastors, in theory, recognize its importance. Professors in Theological Seminaries solemnly and heartily recommend and enjoin it. Yet probably no one ever heard them attempt it themselves. On the contrary, when called out on special occasions, anniversaries, dedications, meetings of associations, they invariably produce, if not a well worn manuscript, yet a manuscript bearing evidence of labor, and a discourse in essay style.
There is reason to believe that some of this class have undesignedly done much to vitiate the popular taste in this very particular. By carefully elaborating the plan, language, and style of their discourses-spending weeks and months upon single sermons, to be brought out on special occasions-they have influenced others to imitate them, some in this thing, some in that, till it is not difficult to find preachers of every grade of character to whom the theme, in the sermon, seems to be the one great interest that wraps up the mind and soul. To deliver a discourse in an impressive and effective manner is their earnest aim and endeavor; whereas their aim and end should be to address their audience, and, taking possession of their minds, compel them to hear, and, if possible, to receive and obey the word of God.
It is narrated of an eminent evangelist, now deceased, that once in a series of meetings, when about to commence his discourse, he looked leisurely around over his audience, and then, with great energy, said, "Now I'VE GOT YOU, Now I've GOT YOU!"
The relation of the preacher to his audience is very different from this, when only the development of a theme is the chief interest in his mind. It does one good sometimes to hear from the lips of the minister in the sanctuary, "Thus saith the Lord." With all the sacred literature of our day, Sabbath School and family instruction, with all the successes of Bible Societies in printing and disseminating copies of the Scriptures, there is great ignorance of God's word in our land.
We do not refer to the cardinal doctrines of religion. In general, these are well understood. They are taught in creeds and cherished in symbols, too often, perhaps, as weapons
of warfare against other denominations. Yet the Bible, as a book, is, to a great extent, unexplored. Its history, its biography, its geography, are not familiar, nor the relation of its more important truths to the connection in which they are found. In the Church of England service, large portions are appointed to be publicly read year by year. But when, as with us, the selection is left to the minister, it will generally be found that this selection is confined to very narrow limits, and, perhaps, with few exceptions, neither comprehensive or systematized, and often not made till the very time for reading.
If expository preaching is impracticable, we would by all means urge a careful expository reading of the Scriptures, giving to that exercise a more prominent and important place than it now holds in many of our churches,-not to speak of those in which the reading of God's Word is wholly dispensed with.
We do not, however, believe that expository preaching is impracticable. Let one follow the method of Robert Hall, or of Robertson, or, if he would go farther back, the method of the primitive Christians,—or, if he chooses, his own method.
A weighty consideration in the case before us, urging to this course, aside from the fact that it publishes God's Word, is that this method is less adapted to make the speaker a separate object of regard.
It is said that Summerfield, having been pursued by multitudes of applauding hearers, was led to exercise himself in the way of simple exposition, as that which most threw the preacher himself in the shade, and more illustriously displayed the pure truth of the Word.
Dr. John M. Mason, the most eloquent of divines in his day, in a sermon to his people on resigning his charge, said: "Do not choose a man who always preaches upon insulated texts. I care not how powerful or eloquent he may be in handling them. The effect of his power and eloquence will be to banish a taste for the Word of God, and to substitute the preacher in its place. You have been accustomed to hear that Word. preached in its connection. Never permit that practice to
stop. Foreign churches call it lecturing, and when done with discretion, I assure you that while it is the most difficult of all exercises, it is, in the same proportion, the most profitable to you. It has this advantage, that in going through a book of Scripture it spreads before you all sorts of characters and all forms of opinion."
By substituting an extemporaneous exposition of Scripture, for which a careful and laborious preparation has been made, in the place of the written formal discourse, where two public exercises for preaching are held for the same people, would relieve the pastor in the work of preparation, would obviate some of the objections to two discourses on the Sabbath, and be more likely than any other course to build up a people in an intelligent acquaintance with God's revealed will, and reëstablish His authority over the soul.
The pernicious errors, ever seeking entrance to Christian. communities, demand a more intelligent acquaintance with God's Word on the part of the common people, and a simple, pungent exposition of the living Word of the living God. We suggest that pastors cannot better serve their people on the Sabbath than by occasional expository sermons in which the Scriptures, clothed with life and power, shall be made familiar to the young.
III. The times demand of us, also, some change in our public services on the Sabbath, as respects the exercise and culture of the religious affections.
It is true that we now have devotional services intermingling with all our customary public Sabbath ministrations. Yet it is painfully evident that these hold a very inferior place in the estimation of the congregation, whereas they should hold a very prominent place. While so much is made of preaching and of sacred oratory, this cannot well be. The preparation for preaching too often exhausts the nervous stimulus of the pastor and unfits him to be made joyful in God's house of prayer. In many churches the choir do all the singing, sometimes with proper religious feeling, and sometimes not. In others the congregation seldom takes part either in singing or
in devotional reading of the Word. They seem not to realize that they themselves have an important part to bear in the services of the Lord's house. The idea of divine worship, in which all the congregation are to join, is something which has never entered the minds of many. Divine worship occupies, and has so long occupied, in the minds of many ministers and people, so small and inferior a place, that the general feeling is, if there is to be no preaching, there can be no service.
We need a change in this respect which shall bring back God into the sanctuary, and there enthrone Jehovah of Hosts. We need special Sabbath services for the exercise and culture of the religious affections as much as we need them for instilling and inculcating practical religious truth. And yet, for centuries, it would seem as if the great aim had been to impart only instruction.
The early Christians celebrated the Lord's Supper every Sabbath. This service, in those circumstances, doubtless did much to cultivate in them a lively sense of their relation to God as children through the redemption of Jesus Christ. The less frequent celebration of the Saviour's death is the wiser course for us. Yet something is needed to restore to the bosom of the worshiper the sense of God's presence; and to remind him in the sanctuary, that "This is none other but the house of God;" and that his "fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."
In one of the churches in a western city, during the excessive heat of the summer of 1862, the sermon was omitted from the second service, and that service was made to consist only of singing and prayer.
A devotional meeting conducted after this manner, with the reading of appropriate selections from God's Word, with frequent singing by the congregation, with brief prayers, could possibly be sustained in populous centers, where the congregation reside in the vicinity of the church. And yet but few pastors would have the hardihood to attempt it in the present circumstances. And it may be for the following reasons: First, public exercises of divine worship, apart from preaching, interest, as yet, but very few minds. Secondly, with the mass
of professedly Christian people, the culture of the religious affections is seldom sought as a distinct object and of high importance, by itself alone.
We need, then, a change in our Sabbath services such as shall exalt the devotional parts to a place far higher than at present, and which shall cause these of themselves to impress all minds with the conviction that the Lord our God is a great God, that honor and majesty are before him, strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. We need services that shall arouse the emotions, and lead men to exclaim with David: Praise ye the Lord from the heavens-all his angels-all his hosts. Praise the Lord from the earth--mountains and all hills— beasts and all cattle-kings of the earth, and all people, both young men and maidens; old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is excellent ; his glory is above the earth and heavens.
We are not prepared to suggest the best means of accomplishing this object. The pastor can doubtless do much by a special preparation for these exercises. He should frequently compare in his own mind his preparation to speak to men with his preparation to speak to God. He may accomplish something by appropriate discourses on this topic, and by appropriately reading such portions of the Word of God as are best adapted to raise the devout feelings of the worshiper, and by occasional meetings on the Sabbath for devotional purposes, that the children of Zion may be joyful in their King.
We conclude this Article with this brief summation:In our judgment the times call for some modification of the modes of ministerial labor. While we would not materially change the usual Sabbath morning services, we would, if possible, devote more time than is customarily given in our churches, to the reading of God's Word, comprising selections from its doctrinal, prophetic, historical, and devotional portions. The second service should bear the character of an occasional or special service; and be conducted with the view of calling into exercise the emotions of the worshiper, and of engaging his heart in the worship of God. It should be particularly adapted to the young, and often appointed for the children