2 Timothy 2:15
Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth.
Sermons
A Useful PreacherJ. C. Miller, D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
A Workman that Needeth not to be AshamedA. Plummer, D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
AdaptationJ. Palmer.2 Timothy 2:15
Adaptation in PreachingH. O. Mackey.2 Timothy 2:15
Advice to Preachers2 Timothy 2:15
Appropriate TruthW. Birch.2 Timothy 2:15
ApprovedA. Plummer, D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
Close PreachingH. W. Beecher.2 Timothy 2:15
Cutting StraightSpeaker's Commentary2 Timothy 2:15
Defection DangerousE. H. Plumptre, D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
Desire for God's ApprobationH. L. Hastings.2 Timothy 2:15
Eccentric Souls to be SavedH. O. Mackey.2 Timothy 2:15
False ExpositionJohn Ruskin.2 Timothy 2:15
Fearless FaithfulnessR. H. S.2 Timothy 2:15
God's ApprovalT. Adam.2 Timothy 2:15
In the ClosetSword and Trowel.2 Timothy 2:15
Nor by the Depth EitherSword and Trowel.2 Timothy 2:15
Pray that SermonSword and Trowel.2 Timothy 2:15
Right HandlingA. Plummer, D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
Rightly Dividing the Word of TruthC. H. Spurgeon.2 Timothy 2:15
Rightly Dividing the Word of TruthA. Alexander. D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
Straight-ForwardnessH. R. Reynolds, D. D.2 Timothy 2:15
The Gospel WorkmanD. Moore, M. A.2 Timothy 2:15
The Minister Approved of GodW. Moore.2 Timothy 2:15
The Qualifications of the Gospel PreacherT. Croskery 2 Timothy 2:15
The Right Division of TruthH. Melvill, B. D.2 Timothy 2:15
Vibration in Unison2 Timothy 2:15
Conduct in View of Heresy Appearing in the ChurchR. Finlayson 2 Timothy 2:14-26
Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

I. HE MUST BE LABORIOUS. The term "workman" implies this fact as well as the direct admonition to "give diligence" to his ministry. The ministry is a good work, demanding industry, study, and care, and no man is sufficient for it without the grace of God. It is a comfort as well as an honour to think that ministers are "workers with God" (1 Corinthians 3:9).

II. THEY MUST SEEK GOD'S APPROVAL IN THEIR WORK. They must not study to please men, else they will not be the servants of Christ; but they must approve themselves to God, showing all good fidelity, and commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

III. THEY MUST WORK WITH A SINCERITY AND EFFICIENCY THAT WILL NOT BRING SHAME UPON THEMSELVES. The negligent, or unskilled, or ignorant workman will produce work which may well put him to shame. But the true workman loves to produce good and abiding work, such as will stand the fiery test of the last day (1 Corinthains 3:13). He may often fee] his insufficiency; but he will never be ashamed of the gospel, nor of his sufferings, nor of his faithful ministrations of the Word.

IV. HE MUST HAVE SKILL IN THE USE OF THE WORD OF GOD. "Handling aright the Word of truth."

1. His one book, his one weapon, his one interest, is the Divine Word. His mind, his heart, his will, must be concentrated upon this Word. It must form the matter of his preaching, the mould of his thoughts, the inspiration of his imagination.

2. He must be able to handle it aright, with due regard for the authority of God, to its own intrinsic claims, and to the welfare of the souls of men. He must be able to "divide it aright," distributing to babes in Christ and to full grown men according to their capacities and their circumstances; he must not pervert it or wrest it from its true sense; he must not keep back anything that is profitable, but declare the whole counsel of God. He must not wander to the right or left, but keep a straight course forward in the path of truth. - T.C.







Study to show thyself approved unto God.
The word which he uses (σπουδάζειν) is one which scarcely occurs in the New Testament, except in the writings of St. Paul. And the corresponding substantive is also much more common in his Epistles than it is elsewhere. It indicates that ceaseless, serious, earnest zeal, which was one of his chief characteristics. And certainly if the proposed standard is to be reached, or even seriously aimed at, abundance of this zeal will be required. For the end proposed is not the admiration or affection of the congregation, or of one's superiors, nor yet success in influencing and winning souls; but that of presenting one's self to God in such a way as to secure His approval, without fear of incurring the reproach of being a workman who has shirked or scamped his work. The apostle's charge is a most wholesome one, and if it is acted upon it secures diligence without fussiness, and enthusiasm without fanaticism. The being "approved" implies being tried and proved as precious metals are proved before they are accepted as genuine.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

I. IN WHAT WAY AND MANNER A MINISTER OUGHT TO SHOW HIMSELF APPROVED OF GOD. It appears to me that something more is required to convince men that a minister has the smile of God than his own belief. Our text evidently implies that by his work a minister must show that God is with him. In his work four things will be found which tend to show this.

1. Its quality. It must be such as God commands.

2. Its quantity; which shall evince diligence.

3. The difficulties attending its performance; which is the trial of sincerity.

4. The spirit in which it is done. It is a work which requires a spirit of compassion and kindness.

II. WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A MINISTER'S APPROVAL OF GOD WHICH SHOULD BE ACCEPTED BY PERSONS?

1. I would place conversions as an evidence of Divine approval. They show Divine favour. The moral miracle of a true conversion evinces the Divine presence and power equally with any other miracle.

2. The convictions of truth and duty, which are made by his preaching to the consciences of sinners.

3. The last sign we shall notice of God's approbation of His minister, is the effects of his preaching on the hearts of them that believe. Those that are spiritual can judge whether his preaching is scriptural.

(W. Moore.)

Advert continually to His presence with reverence and godly fear; consider Him as always looking on the heart; trust in His almighty protection; believe in Him as a holy sin-hating God and reconciled to sinners of mankind only in Jesus Christ; value His favour above all the world, and make it the settled sole aim of your lives to approve yourselves to His pure eyes.

(T. Adam.)

"If you were an ambitious man," said a person one day to a minister of talent and education, who was settled in a retired and obscure parish, "you would not stay in such a place as this." "How do you know that I am not an ambitious man?" said the pastor. "You do not act like one." "I have my plans as well as others — the results may not appear as soon, perhaps." "Are you engaged in some great work?" "I am; but the work does not relate to literature or science. I am not ambitious, perhaps, in the ordinary sense of the term. I do not desire to occupy the high places of the earth, but I do desire to get near my Master's throne in glory. I care but little for popular applause, but I desire to secure the approbation of God. The salvation of souls is the work He is most interested in, and to the successful prosecution of which He has promised the largest rewards."

(H. L. Hastings.)

"Something is the matter with your telephone; we can hardly hear you," was the response, that in a faint voice came to us from the Central Office when we had answered their signal ring with the usual "Halloo!" A few minutes afterwards a young man from head-quarters stepped into our study, and taking the telephone in his hand commenced to investigate. "Yes, here it is," he exclaimed, as he began to unscrew the ear-piece. "The diaphragm is bulged, and dust has collected around it to such an extent that it does not vibrate in unison with ours up in the office, and that spoils the sound. You see," he added, while brushing the instrument, "that the telephones at both ends of the wire must act in harmony or there will be no voice. There," he said, "it is all right now." And sure enough the lowest word could be distinctly heard, There was, of course, nothing remarkable in this incident, and yet the words "vibrate in unison," "must act in harmony or there will be no voice," suggested higher thoughts as well. The human heart is God's telephone in man. Through it He purposes to speak to our inner consciousness; and when our conscience, our affections, and our desires "vibrate in unison" with the breath of His lips we can hear His voice within us.

The single word which represents "that needeth not to be ashamed" (ἀνεπαίσχυντος). is a rare formation, which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Its precise meaning is not quite certain. The more simple and frequent form (ἀναίσχυντος) means" shameless," i.e., one who does not feel shame when he ought to do so. Such a meaning, if taken literally, would be utterly unsuitable here. And we then have choice of two interpretations, either(1) that which is adopted in both A.V. and R.V., who need not feel shame, because his work will bear examination, or(2) who does not feel shame, although his work is of a kind which the world holds in contempt. The latter is the interpretation which adopts, and there is much to be said in its favour. Three times already in this letter has the apostle spoken of not being ashamed of the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8, 12, 16). Does he not, therefore, mean here also, "Present thyself to God as a workman who is not ashamed of being in His service and of doing whatever work may be assigned to him"? This brings us very close to what would be the natural meaning of the word, according to the analogy of the simpler form. "If you are to work for God," says Paul, "you must be in a certain sense shameless. There are some men who set public opinion at defiance, in order that they may follow their own depraved desires. The Christian minister must be prepared sometimes to set public opinion at defiance, in order flint he may follow the commands of God." The vox populi, even when taken in its most comprehensive sense, is anything but an infallible guide. Public opinion is nearly always against the worst forms of selfishness, dishonesty, and sensuality; and to set it at defiance in such matters is to be "shameless" in the worst sense. But sometimes public opinion is very decidedly against some of the noblest types of holiness; and to be "shameless" under such circumstances is a necessary qualification for one's duty. It is by no means certain that this is not St. Paul's meaning. If we translate "A workman that feeleth no shame," we shall have a phrase that would cover either interpretation.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

I. Look, first, at the DESIGNATION the Christian minister must try to earn for himself, to be "a workman approved of God," one whose work will bear trying in the fire; having nothing counterfeit about it, but discovering the fine gold of an unadulterated service — truthful, hearty, honest towards God and man.

1. Such a man will strive to be approved of God for his diligence, his earnestness, the anxious concentration upon the duties of the ministry of all the powers which God has given him.

2. "Approved of God," again, a minister should strive to be for his faithfulness. Now, this faithfulness, in relation to the stewardship of souls, consists in a bold and unfaltering adherence to the terms of our gospel commission; in a jealousy, before all things, for the honour of the Lord we serve; in a deter mination that, neither in public nor in private, will we exercise any timid reservations whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.

II. But the text invites us, in the next place, to consider the Christian minister in His OFFICE as a public teacher.

1. Where note, first, it is the "word of truth" he has to divide; an expression with which we may compare the language of the same apostle on another occasion, where he says, "When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as is in truth the word of God." This mode of speaking of Holy Scripture seems well calculated to meet that irrepressible craving for certainty on moral subjects, which is the first need of the awakened mind.

2. But this word or truth, we are told, is to be "rightly divided"; that is, we may interpret the expression, to have all its parts distributed and disposed after some law of connection and coherence and scientific unity. The general spirit of this injunction goes to reprove all that mutilated or partial teaching in which, through an over-fondness for particular aspects of theological truth, a man is betrayed into negligence, if not into culpable reticence, about all the rest.

III. But I proceed to the last point which calls for notice in our text, or that which leads us to contemplate the CHRISTIAN MINISTER IN HIS PERSONAL CHARACTER AND QUALIFICATIONS.

1. "Needeth not to be ashamed," in regard of his mental culture, and attainments,, and general fitness to cope with the demands of an intellectual age.

2. "Needeth not be ashamed," once more, in regard of his personal and experimental acquaintance with the truths he is ordained to teach. Every profession in life has its appropriate and distinctive excellence. We look for courage in the soldier; integrity in the merchant; wise consistency in the statesman; unswerving uprightness in the judge. What is that which, before all things, should distinguish the Christian minister, if it be not pre-eminent sanctity of deportment, and the spirit of piety and prayer?

(D. Moore, M. A.)

Rightly dividing the word of truth
Speaker's Commentary.
Literally "cutting straight." The figure has been very variously derived; from a priest dividing the victim, the steward distributing the bread or stores, a stonemason, a carpenter, a ploughman, a road-cutter. The last has been most frequently adopted. Perhaps they are right, who, like Luther and Alford, consider that the figure had become almost lost sight of in common usage, and that the word had come to mean little more than to "manage" or "administer."

(Speaker's Commentary.)

The metaphor is taken from cutting roads. The characteristic of the Roman roads would be well known to the apostle, and this idea is given in the margin of the revision "holding a straight course in the word of truth." The expression denotes a fearless faithfulness — a simple straightforwardness in the proclamation of the truth of God, whatever may be the opinions or the conduct of men. The Word has to be preached whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.

(R. H. S.)

I am disposed to think that we may perhaps class this among the medical words with which these Epistles abound, and see in it a reference to the work of the surgeon, in which any deflection from the true line of incision might be perilous or even fatal. The reference in ver. 17 to the gangrene or cancer seems to carry on the train of thought.

(E. H. Plumptre, D. D.)

The idea of rightness seems to be the dominant one; that of cutting quite secondary; so that the Revisers are quite justified in following the example of the Vulgate (recte tractantem), and translating simply "rightly handling." But this right handling may be understood as consisting in seeing that the word of truth moves in the right direction, and progresses in the congregation by a legitimate development.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

St. Paul summons Timothy to a right straightforward method of dealing with the Divine word. He would have him set out clear lines for the intellect, a plain path for the feet, a just appeal to the emotions, a true stimulant of the conscience.

(H. R. Reynolds, D. D.)

I. The Vulgate version translates it — and with a considerable degree of accuracy — "Rightly HANDLING the word of truth." What is the right way, then, to handle the word of truth?

1. It is like a sword, and it was not meant to be played with. It must be used in earnest and pushed home.

2. He that rightly handles the word of God will never use it to defend men in their sins, but to slay their sins.

3. The gospel ought never to be used for frightening sinners from Christ.

4. Moreover, if we rightly handle the word of God we shall not preach it so as to send Christians into a sleepy state. We may preach the consolations of the gospel till each professor feels "I am safe enough: there is no need to watch, no need to fight, no need for any exertion whatever. My battle is fought, my victory is won, I have only to fold my arms and go to sleep."

5. And, oh, beloved, there is one thing that I dread above all others — lest I should ever handle the word of God so as to persuade some of you that you are saved when you are not.

II. But my text has another meaning. It has an idea in it which I can only express by a figure. "Rightly dividing, or STRAIGHT CUTTING." A ploughman stands here with his plough, and he ploughs right along from this end of the field to the other, making a straight furrow. And so Paul would have Timothy make a straight furrow right through the word of truth. I believe there is no preaching that God will ever accept but that which goes decidedly through the whole line of troth from end to end, and is always thorough, earnest, and downright. As truth is a straight line, so must our handling of the truth be straightforward and honest, without shifts or tricks.

III. There is a third meaning to the text. "Rightly dividing the word of truth" is, as some think, an expression taken from the priests dividing the sacrifices. When they had a lamb or a sheep, a ram or a bullock, to offer, after they had killed it, it was cut in pieces, carefully and properly; and it requires no little skill to find out where the joints are, so as to cut up the animal discreetly. Now, the word of truth has to be taken to pieces wisely; it is not to be hacked or torn as by a wild beast, but rightly divided. There has to be DISCRIMINATION AND DISSECTION.

1. Every gospel minister must divide between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.

2. We need also to keep up a clear distinction between the efforts of nature and the work of grace. It is commendable for men to do all they can to improve themselves, and everything by which people are made more sober, more honest, more frugal, better citizens, better husbands, better wives, is a good thing; but that is nature and not grace. Reformation is not regeneration.

3. It is always well, too, for Christian men to be able to distinguish one truth from another. Let the knife penetrate between the joints of the work of Christ for us, and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Justification, by which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, is one blessing; sanctification, by which we ourselves are made personally righteous, is another blessing.

4. One other point of rightly dividing should never be forgotten, we must always distinguish between the root and the fruit. "I want to feel a great change of heart, and then I will believe." Just so; you wish to make the fruit the root.

IV. The next interpretation of the apostle's expression is, practically CUTTING OUT the word for holy uses. This is the sense given by . I will show you what I mean here. Suppose I have a skin of leather before me, and I want to make a saddle. I take a knife, and begin cutting out the shape. I do not want those parts which are dropping off on the right, and round tiffs corner; they are very good leather, but I cannot just now make use of them. I have to cut out my saddle, and I make that my one concern. The preacher, to be successful, must also have his wits about him, and when he has the Bible before him lie must use those portions which will have a bearing upon his grand aim.

V. One thing the preacher has to do is to ALLOT TO EACH ONE HIS PORTION; and here the figure changes. According to Calvin, the intention of the Spirit here is to represent one who is the steward of the house, and has to apportion food to the different members of the family. He has rightly to divide the loaves so as not to give the little children and the babes all the crust; rightly to supply each one's necessities, not giving the strong men milk, and the babes hard diet; not casting the children's bread to the dogs, nor giving the swine's husks to the children, but placing before each his own portion.

VI. Rightly to divide the word of truth means to TELL EACH MAN WHAT HIS LOT AND HERITAGE WILL BE IN ETERNITY. Just as when Canaan was conquered, it was divided by lot among the tribes, so the preacher has to tell of Canaan, that happy land, and he has to tell of the land of darkness and of death-shade, and to let each man know where his last abode will be.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Paul no doubt meant by this simile, that as a father at the dinner-table cuts and carves the meat, and divides it in proper shares to his family — a big piece for the grown-up son who works hard, and a small tender bit for the wee bairn who is propped up in a high chair next the mother — so all Christian workmen should divide religious truth, according to the capacity and the wants of the people amongst whom they labour. We are told in a fable that a half-witted man invited a number of creatures to a feast, at which he gave straw to the dog, and a bone to the ass. So, unless we think and reason, we shall be giving the wrong sort of food to the people who look to us for spiritual nourishment. When you are invited to visit the death-bed of a man whose life has been self-indulgent and occasionally vicious, and you see the tears of repentance in his eyes, it is a blunder to read him an account of the last judgment in the 25th of Matthew; but it is rightly dividing the truth to open the 15th chapter of Luke, and tell him the touching story of the father's love to his penitent prodigal son. If you are asked to preach religious truth to a sceptic, do not ask him to believe that the whale swallowed Jonah; or that, one day, the sun stood still while an army fought out its battle. It would be like giving straw to a hungry god. Tell the sceptic the Divine parable of the humane Samaritan, and say, "If you copy the spirit of that man, you shall find it one of the gateways to God." Would you influence for good a young man who is leaving home for the great city? Then, tell him the story of virtue as exhibited in the life of Joseph, who as a son, a brother, a slave, a servant, a overseer, a prisoner, and a prince, benefited man and glorified God. If you have to speak to children, tell them of the child Samuel, who prayed to God, and was consecrated to His service in one of the most illustrious lives of the Old Testament; and when you wish to impress upon a child that he should trust in God, read and expound to him the psalm which begins with the thrilling words, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"; and tell him of the sacred Saviour who took the little ones in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such little children is the kingdom of heaven." If you are asked to go to a prison and speak to the convicted wretches, tell them of the poor, naked, dying thief on the cross who saw Jesus, believed in Him, prayed to Him, and the same day was received into paradise. And are you moved to give a word to the outcasts? Then, give them their share of suitable spiritual food. Tell them of Mary Magdalene whose heart was cleansed from its impure demons and filled instead with sacred love. And when the penitent outcasts weep while you speak of the Divine love, one may reply, "But, sir, no good woman will befriend such as we have been!" Then, tell them that when Mary Magdalene was converted she became the companion of the mother of Christ; and that if they trust in God and do the right, He will make a sacred path for them through the world and make them perhaps as useful and as honoured as the Magdalene whose service to Christ and His mother is the charm of the world. Yes; there is in this grand gospel history a share of food for everybody; and it should be for us to find it and bestow it according to the needs of the people.

(W. Birch.)

Truth is of various kinds — physical, mathematical, moral, etc.; but here one particular kind of truth is referred to, called the word of truth — that is, the truth of the Word of God — the truth of Divine revelation — theological truth. The Bible was not given to teach men philosophy, or the arts which have respect to this life; its object is to teach the true knowledge of God, and the true and only method of salvation.

1. The truths of God's Word must be carefully distinguished from error.

2. But it is necessary to divide the truth not only from error, but from philosophy, and mere human opinions and speculations.

3. The skilful workman must be able to distinguish between fundamental truths, and such as are not fundamental.

4. Rightly to divide the word of truth, we must arrange it in such order as that it may be most easily and effectually understood. In every system some things stand in the place of principles, on which the rest are built. He who would be a skilful workman in God's building must take much pains with the foundation; but he must not dwell for ever on the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, but should endeavour to lead His people on to perfection in the knowledge of the truth.

5. A good workman will so divide the word of truth, as clearly to distinguish between the law and the gospel; between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.

6. Another thing very necessary to a correct division of the word of truth is that the promises and threatenings contained in the Scriptures be applied to the characters to which they properly belong.

7. But finally, the word of God should be so handled that it may be adapted to Christians in different states and stages of the Divine life; for while some Christians are like "strong men," others are but "babes in Christ, who must be fed with milk, and not with strong meat."

(A. Alexander. D. D.)

We will suppose a workman dealing with the yet unrenewed and unshapen material — with the unconverted of his hearers; and we will study to show you how, if he would "rightly divide the word of truth," and approve himself of his Master, he must use different modes according to the different characters upon which he has to act. To illustrate this we may refer to a passage in St. Jude, where the apostle thus expresses himself "Of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." Here you have gentle treatment prescribed; and you have also harsh treatment. Let us see how both will be employed by "a workman, that needeth not to be ashamed." Of some, the minister is to "have compassion." Is he not to have compassion of all? Indeed he is. Let him lay aside instantly the ministerial office; let him be pronounced utterly wanting in the very first qualification for its discharge, if there be the sinner whom he does not pity, for whom he is not anxious, or whose danger does not excite in him solicitude. All are to be regarded with a feeling of pity, but all are not to be treated with the same mildness and forbearance. Behold that young man whose family is irreligious, who, with perhaps a sense of the necessity of providing for the soul, is laughed out of his seriousness by those who ought to be urging him to piety — hurried to amusements which are only fitted to confirm him in enmity to God, and initiated into practices which can issue in nothing but the ruin of the soul. I could not treat that young person sternly. I could not fail, in any intercourse with him, to bear in mind his peculiar disadvantages. And though it would be my duty — else could I be "studying to approve myself unto God"? — to remonstrate with him on the madness of allowing others to make him miserable for eternity, the very tone of my voice must show that I spake in sorrow, and not in anger. Or, behold, again, that man in distressed circumstances, on whom press the cares of a large family, and who is tempted perhaps to gain the means of subsistence through practices which his conscience condemns — Sunday trading, for example. Could I go to the man in harshness and with severity? I must not, indeed, spare his fault. I must not allow that his difficulties are any excuse for the offence. I had "need to be ashamed as a workman," if I did this; but, surely, when I think on his peculiar temptations, and hear the cries of his young ones who are asking him for bread, you will expect me to feel great concern for the man, and so to "divide the word of truth," as to show that concern, by the manner in which I reprove his misdoing. Or, once more, a man of no very strong intellect, and no very great reading, is thrown into the society of sceptical men perhaps of brilliant powers, and no inconsiderable acquirements. Why, he will be no match for these apostles of infidelity! His little stock of evidence on the side of Christianity will soon be exhausted; and he will not be able to detect the falsehoods, and show the sophistries of the showy reasoners; and presently, by a very natural, though most unfair process, he will be disposed to conclude that what he cannot prove wrong must be right. Towards a man thus seduced our prevailing feeling will be compassion — a feeling which you cannot expect us to extend towards those who have seduced him, except in the broad sense that we are aware of their danger, and would snatch them from ruin. Again, it is melancholy to think how many an inquirer may have been repulsed, how many a backslider confirmed in apostasy, how many a softening heart hardened, how many a timid spirit scared by the mode in which the truth has been pressed on their attention. It requires great delicacy and address to deal successfully with a very sensitive nature; more especially where — to use the language of the world — there is much to excuse the faults which we are bound to rebuke. But if there be a right division of the word of truth, it is evident that whilst some of you may require the gentle treatment, others will need the more severe. There are cases of hardened and reckless men, reckless men, of the openly dissolute and profane — men living in habitual sin, and showing unblushing contempt for the truth of God. And we must not so speak as to lead you to suppose us sure that there are none amongst yourselves requiring the harsh treatment. There are men who cannot possibly be in any doubt as to the wrongness of their conduct, who cannot plead ignorance in excuse, or the suddenness of temptation, or the pressure of circumstances; but who have a decided preference for iniquity, and a settled determination to gratify their passions, or aggrandise their families — pursuing a course against which conscience remonstrates, and who would not themselves venture to advance any justification. And if we would "rightly divide the word of truth," what treatment must we try with such men? Oh! these men may yet be saved! The word of truth does not shut them up to inevitable destruction. We are not despairing of any one amongst you, and we will not. We can yet again bring you the message of pardon. And thus whilst directed to make an effort to save you, and, therefore, assured that you are not past recovery, the word of truth enjoins severe and peremptory dealing. These are those of whom St. Jude uses the remarkable expression — "Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

King Oswald, of Northumbria, sent for missionaries from the monastery of Iona. The first one despatched in answer to his call obtained but little success. He declared on his return that among a people so stubborn and barbarous success was impossible. "Was it their stubbornness or your severity?" asked Ardan, a brother sitting by; "did you forget God's word to give them the milk first and then the meat?"

(H. O. Mackey.)

A divine ought to calculate his sermon, as an astronomer does his almanac, to the meridian of the place and people where he lives.

(J. Palmer.)

Do you not know that a man may be preached to liturgically and doctrinally, and never be touched by the truth, or understand that to which he listens? Suppose I were to preach to you in Hebrew, how much would you understand? Now, when I preach so that a banker, who has all along been sitting under the doctrinal preaching, but has never felt its application to his particular business, feels the next day, when counting his coin, a twinge of conscience and says, "I wish I could either practice that sermon or forget it," I have preached the gospel to him in such a way that he has understood it. I have applied it to the sphere of life in which he lives. When the gospel is preached so that a man feels that it is applied to his own life, he has it translated to him. And it needs to be translated to merchants and lawyers, and mechanics, and every other class in society, in order that all may receive their portion in due season.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Success in soul winning is only given to skill, earnestness, sympathy, perseverance. Men are saved, not in masses, but by careful study and well-directed effort. It is said that such is the eccentric flight of the snipe when they rise from the earth, that it completely puzzles the sportsman, and some who are capital shots at other birds are utterly baffled here. Eccentricity seems to be their special quality, and this can only be mastered by incessant practice with the gun. But the eccentricity of souls is beyond this, and he had need be a very spiritual Nimrod, a "mighty hunter before the Lord" who would capture them for Christ.

(H. O. Mackey.)

Few sermons are more false or dangerous than those in which the teacher professes to impress his audience by showing "how much there is in a verse." If he examined his own heart closely before beginning, he would find that his real desire was to show how much he, the expounder, could make out of the verse. But entirely honest and earnest men often fall into the same error. They have been taught that they should always look deep, and that Scripture is full of hidden meanings; and they easily yield to the flattering conviction that every chance idea which comes into their heads in looking at a word is put there by Divine agency. Hence they wander away into what they believe to be an inspired meditation, but which is, in reality, a meaning less jumble of ideas, perhaps very proper ideas, but with which the text in question has nothing whatever to do.

(John Ruskin.)

A young beginner at preaching, after throwing off a highly wrought, and, as he thought, eloquent gospel sermon in the pulpit, in the presence of a venerable pastor, solicited of his experienced friend the benefit of his criticisms upon the performance. "I have but just one remark to make," was his reply, "and that is, to request you to pray that sermon." "What do you mean, sir? I mean, literally, just what I say; pray it, if you can, and you will find the attempt a better criticism than any I can make upon it." The request still puzzled the young man beyond measure; the idea of praying a sermon was a thing he never heard or conceived of; and the singularity of the suggestion wrought powerfully on his imagination and feelings. He resolved to attempt the task. He laid his manuscript before him, and on his knees before God, undertook to make it into a prayer. But it would not pray; the spirit of prayer was not in it, and that, for the very good reason — as he then clearly saw for the first time — that the spirit of prayer and piety did not compose it. For the first time he saw that his heart was not right with God; and this conviction left him no peace until he had "Christ formed in him the hope of glory." With a renewed heart he applied himself anew to the work of composing sermons for the pulpit; preached again in the presence of the pious pastor who had given such timely advice; and again solicited the benefit of his critical remarks. "I have no remarks to make," was his complacent reply, "you can pray that sermon."

(Sword and Trowel.)

Of Mr. John Shepherd, of the United States, it is recorded that he was greatly distinguished for his success in the pulpit. When on his death-bed he said to some young ministers who were present, "The secret of my success is in these three things:

1. "The studying of my sermons very frequently cost me tears.

2. Before I preached a sermon to others I derived good from it myself.

3. I have always gone into the pulpit as if I were immediately after to render an account to my Master." All who knew that devoted man would have united in expressing his secret in three words, "In the closet."

(Sword and Trowel.)

A young minister having preached for Doctor Emmons one day, he was anxious to get a word of applause for his labour of love. The grave doctor, however, did not introduce the subject, and the young brother was obliged to bait the hook for him. "I hope, sir, I did not weary your people by the length of my sermon to-day?" "No, sir, not at all; nor by the depth either."

(Sword and Trowel.)

I know a clergyman who valued as one of the best testimonies to his pulpit ministry the remark of a servant, overheard by a friend, after a sermon specially addressed to servants: "One would think he had been a servant himself."

(J. C. Miller, D. D.)

On the fly-leaf of a Greek Testament used by Dr. John Gregg, Bishop of York, are carefully written out the following memoranda for his own guidance. They will be found interesting to those who aim at speaking in appropriate language on a subject previously studied and thought over, and they will know that the hints given are the results of much experience: "Much depends on vitality and vigour of body, much depends on the mood and spirit in which you are; therefore pray, and feed your mind with truth, and attend to health. Much depends on subject; therefore select carefully. Much on preparation; therefore be diligent. Much on kind and number of hearers. Much on method; therefore arrange. Much on manner; therefore be simple and solemn, spirit earnest, tender and affectionate. Much on language; therefore be choice. All on the Spirit; therefore invoke His presence, and rely on His power, that you may expect docere, placere, movere. Energy depends on the state of mind and body, ease on calmness and self-possession; lifts on constant intercourse with people and variety of ranks, and much practice. Read aloud various passages and portions. Think much, and read select authors. Converse with refined and well-informed persons. Prepare well for each public occasion. Exercise your powers in public often, and always do your best. Let your public manner be an enlargement of your private, and let that be natural and simple, graceful without awkwardness or affectation."

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