Sunday, April 10, 2011
a higher plane...
"Perhaps you may think that, with our broad view of religion, we should not speak of the object, but the objects of preaching, since they are so many. 'Tis true, indeed, that the proper themes of the pulpit are many and ever increasing. The earnest search after truth, and the application of it when found to all life, outward and inward, the history of the Church, the geography of the Holy Land, which to Renan was "a fifth Gospel," the origin and history of sects, creeds, church ceremonies, church schisms and healings, church days, their observance, their significance, the great religions of the world with their Bibles and the various views held of their inspiration, the conflict or harmony between science and faith, the sympathy of religions, and, above all, the application of eternal verities to all the wrongs, oppressions, and sins of the world,— how, it may be asked, with all these subjects, and many more that might be named, so legitimate, so inviting, so needful, if one would keep abreast of the times, and see that his people are informed concerning all the latest and freshest thought on all these themes,— how can one speak of the object of preaching as if there were but one? Is not every one of these subjects germane to the pulpit? Every one, I should say, and still more pastime may reveal their nature. And yet I think we may speak of the object of preaching. For, while the proper and legitimate subjects of the pulpit are beyond count, the grand object of preaching is ever the same,— to lift man to a higher plane of thought and life, to quicken and stimulate his religious nature, to wake up and wisely direct his moral and spiritual powers, to lift him out of the animal into the spiritual life, out of selfindulgence into self-sacrifice, out of hate into love, out of sin into righteousness, out of irreligion and the blighted life that goes with it into a God-trusting faith and a pure and noble life. No matter how various the themes of the pulpit, no matter how wide the range of topics, no matter how rich the stores of knowledge, how vast the reading or fine the culture brought to it, if only the great object of preaching be kept steadily in view."