Text Preaching and Expository Preaching—Peter and Paul at Jerusalem—Oratorical Preaching.
HERE is a word of counsel for young men who have their eye on the ministry. If you take my advice, you will seek not to be a text preacher, but an expository preacher. I believe that what this country wants is the Word of God. There is no book that will draw the people like the Bible. One of the professors of the Chicago University gave some lectures on the Book of Job, and there was no building large enough to hold the people. If the Bible only has a chance to speak for itself, it will interest the people. I am tired and sick of moral essays. It would take about a ton of them to convert a child five years old. A man was talking of a certain church once, and said he liked it because the preacher never touched on politics and religion— just read nice little essays. Give the people the Word of God. Some men only use the Bible as a text book. They get a text and away they go. They go up in a balloon and talk about astronomy, and then go down and give you a little geology, and next Sunday they go on in the same way, and then they wonder why it is people do not read their Bibles. I used to think Charles Spurgeon was about as good a preacher as I ever knew, but I used rather hear him expound the Scripture than listen to all his sermons. Why is it that Dr. John Hall has held his audience so long? He opens his Bible and expounds. How was it that Andrew Bonar held his audience in Glasgow? He had a weak voice, people could hardly hear him, yet thirteen hundred people would file into his church twice every Sabbath, and many of them took notes, and they would go home and send his sermons all over the world. It was Dr. Bonar's custom to lead his congregation through the study of the Bible, book by book. There was not a part of the Bible in which he could not find Christ. I preached five months in Glasgow, and there was not a ward or a district in the city in which I did not find the influence of that man.
A REMINISCENCE OF DR. ANDREW BONAR.
I was in London in '84 and a barrister had come down from Edinburgh. He said he went through to Glasgow a few weeks before to spend Sunday, and he was fortunate enough to hear Andrew Bonar. He said he happened to be there the Sunday Dr. Bonar got to that part of the Epistle of Galatians where it says that Paul went up to Jerusalem to see Peter. "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days." He let his imagination roam. He said one day he could imagine they had been very busy and they were tired, and all at once Peter turned to Paul and said, "Paul, wouldn't you like to take a little walk?" And Paul said he would. So they went down through the streets of Jerusalem arm in arm, over the brook Cedron, and all at once Peter stopped and said, " Look, Paul, this is the very spot where He wrestled, and where He suffered and 44 Text Preaching and Expository Preaching.
sweat great drops of blood. There is the very spot where John and James fell asleep, right there. And right here is the very spot where I fell asleep. I don't think I should have denied Him if I hadn't gone to sleep, but I was overcome. I remember the last thing I heard Him say before I fell asleep was, 'Father, let this cup pass from me if it is Thy will.' And when I awoke an angel stood right there where you are standing, talking to Him, and I saw great drops of blood come from /His pores (and trickle down His cheeks. It wasn't long before Judas came to betray Him. And I heard Him say to Judas so kindly, 'Betrayest thou the Master with a kiss?' And then they bound Him and led Him away. That night when He was on trial I denied 'Him." He pictured the whole scene. And the next day Peter turned again to Paul and said, "Wouldn't you like to take another walk to-day?" And Paul said he would. That day they went to Calvary, and when they got on the hill, Peter said, "Here, Paul, this is the very spot where He died for you and me. See that hole right there? That is where His cross stood. The believing thief hung there and the unbelieving thief there on the other side. Mary Magdalene and Mary His mother stood there, and I stood away on the outskirts of the crowd. The night before when I denied Him, He looked at me so lovingly that it broke my heart, and I couldn't bear to get near enough to see Him. That was the darkest hour of my life. I was in hopes that God would intercede and take Him from the cross. I kept listening and I thought I would hear His voice." And he pictured the whole scene, how they drove the spear into His side and put the crown of thorns on His brow, and all that took place.
And the next day Peter turned to Paul again and asked him if he wouldn't like to take another walk. And Paul said he would. Again they passed down the streets of Jerusalem, over the brook Cedron, over Mount Olivet, up to Bethphage, and over on to the slope near Bethany. All at once Peter stopped and said, "Here, Paul, this is the last place where I ever saw Him. I never heard Him speak so sweetly as He did that day. It was right here He delivered His last message to us, and all at once I noticed that His feet didn't touch the ground. He arose and went up. All at once there came a cloud and received Him out of sight. I stood right here gazing up into the heavens, in hopes I might see Him again and hear Him speak. And two men dressed in white dropped down by our sides and stood there and said, 'Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.'"
My friends, I want to ask you this question: Do you believe that picture is overdrawn? Do you believe Peter had Paul as his guest and didn't take him to Gethsemane, didn't take him to Calvary and to Mount Olivet? I myself spent eight days in Jerusalem, and every morning I wanted to steal down into the garden where my Lord sweat great drops of blood. Every day I climbed Mount Olivet and looked up into the blue sky where He went to His Father. I have no doubt Peter took Paul out on those three walks. If there had been_ja_maiijthat
THEOLOGICAL SEM 46 Text Preaching and Expository Preaching. 48 Reading and Studying.
could have taken me to the very spot where my Master sweat those great drops of blood, do you think I wouldn't have asked him to take me there? If he could have told me where I could find the spot where my Master's feet last touched this sin-cursed earth and was taken up, do you think I wouldn't have had him show it to me?
I know there is a class of people who say that kind of preaching won't do in this country. "People want something oratorical." Well, there is no doubt but that there are some who want to hear oratorical sermons, but they forget them inside of twenty-four hours.
It a good thing for a minister to have the reputation of feeding his people. A man once made an artificial bee, which was so like a real bee that he challenged another man to tell the difference. It made just such a buzzing as the live bee, and looked the same. The other said, "yqu put an artificial bee and a real bee down there, and I will tell you the difference pretty quickly." lie then put a drop of honey on the ground and the live bee went for the honey. It is just so with us. There are a lot of people who profess to be Christians, but they are artificial, and they don't know when you give them honey. The real bees go for honey every time. People can get along without your theories and opinions. "Thus saith the Lord"—that is what we want.
Reading and Studying—At Family Prayers—A Word, in Season—Helpful Questions.
MERELY reading the Bible is not what God wants. There is not a verse in Scripture where I am told to " read " the Bible, but again and again I am exhorted to " search."
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
"So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."
We must study it thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth. If a friend were to see me searching about a building, and were to come up and say, "Moody, what are you looking for? have you lost something?" and I answered, "No, I haven't lost anything; I'm not looking for anything particular," I fancy he would just let me go on by myself, and think me very foolish. But if I were to say, "Yes, I have lost a dollar," why, then, I might expect him to help me to find it. Read the Bible, my friends, as if you were seeking for something of value. It is a good deal better to take a single chapter, and spend a month on it, than to read the Bible at random for a month.
I used at one time to read so many chapters a day, and if I did not get through my usual quantity I thought I was getting cold and backsliding. But, mind you, if a man had asked me two hours afterward what I had read, I could not tell him; I had forgotten it nearly all. When I was a boy I used, among other things, to 'hoe corn on a farm; and I used to hoe it so badly, in order to get over so much ground, that at night I had to put down a stick in the ground, so as to know next morning where I had left off. That was somewhat in the same fashion as running through so many chapters every day. A man will say, "Wife, did I read that chapter?" "Well," says she, " I don't remember." And neither of them can recollect. And perhaps he reads the same chapter over and over again; and they call that "studying the Bible." I do not think there is a book in the world we neglect so much as the Bible.
Now, when you read the Bible at family worship or for private devotions, look for suitable passages. What would you think of a minister who went into the.pulpit on Sunday and opened the Bible at hazard and commenced to read? Yet this is what most men do at family prayers. They might as well go into a drug store and swallow the first medicine their eye happens to see Children would take more interest in family prayers if the father would take time to search for some passage to suit the special need. For instance, if any member of the family is about to travel, read Psalm 121. In time of trouble, read Psalm 91. When the terrible accident happened to the "Spree " as we were crossing the Atlantic in November, 1892, and when none on board ship expected to live to see the light of another sun, we held a prayermeeting, at which I read a portion of Psalm 107:
"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
"These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
"For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
"They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths : their soul is melted because of trouble.
"They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
"He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
"Then they are glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
"Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
A lady came to me afterwards and said I made it up to suit the occasion.
I have seen questions that will help one to get good out of every verse and passage of Scripture. They may be used in family worship, or in studying the Sabbath School lesson, or for prayer meeting, or in private reading. It would be a good thing if questions like these were pasted in the front of every Bible:
1. What persons have I read about, and what have I learned about them?
2. What places have I read about, and what have I read about them? If the place is not mentioned,
50 Helpful Questions.
can I find out where it is? Do I know its position on the map?
3. Does the passage refer to any particular time in the history of the children of Israel, or of some leading character?
4. Can I tell from memory what I have just been reading?
5. Are there any parallel passages or texts that throw light on this passage?
6. Have I read anything about God the Father? or about Jesus Christ? or about the Holy Spirit?
7. What have I read about myself? about man's sinful nature? about the spiritual new nature?
8. Is there any duty for me to observe? any example to follow? any promise to lay hold of? any exhortation for my guidance? any prayer that I may echo?
9. How is this Scripture profitable for doctrine? for reproof? for correction? for instruction in righteousness?
10. Does it contain the gospel in type or in evidence?
11. What is the key verse of the chapter or passage? Can I repeat it from memory?