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Bunyan Characters: First Series by Alexander Whyte D.D.

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darkness into light. Which of the promises have been of such help
to you? Over what Scriptures have you ever cried out: Oh, how
good a thing it is for God to send me His word! Which are the
biggest words in all the Bible to you? To what promise did you
ever flounce as a horse flounces when he is sticking in the mire?
And has any word of God so made God your God that even death
itself, since it alone separates you from His presence, is lovely
and beautiful in your eyes? Have you a cluster of such keys in
your bosom? If you have, take them all out to-night and go over
them again with thanksgiving before you sleep.


'I will give you pastors after Mine own heart, which shall feed you
with knowledge and understanding.'

The Delectable Mountains rise out of the heart of Immanuel's Land.
This fine range of far-rolling hills falls away on the one side
toward the plain of Destruction, and on the other side toward the
land of Beulah and the Celestial City, and the way to the Celestial
City runs like a bee-line over these well-watered pastures.
Standing on a clear day on the highest peak of the Delectable
Mountains, if you have good eyes you can see the hill Difficulty in
the far-back distance with a perpetual mist clinging to its base
and climbing up its sides, which mist the shepherds say to you
rises all the year round off the Slough of Despond, while, beyond
that again the heavy smoke of the city of Destruction and the town
of Stupidity shuts in the whole horizon. And then, when you turn
your back on all that, in favourable states of the weather you can
see here and there the shimmer of that river over which there is no
bridge; and, then again, so high above the river that it seems to
be a city standing in heaven rather than upon the earth, you will
see the high towers and shining palace roofs and broad battlements
of the New Jerusalem itself. The two travellers should have spent
the past three days among the sights of the Delectable Mountains;
and they would have done so had not the elder traveller misled the
younger. But now that they were set free and fairly on the right
road again, the way they had spent the past three days and three
nights made the gardens and the orchards and the pastures that ran
round the bottom and climbed up the sides of the Delectable
Mountains delectable beyond all description to them.

Now, there were on the tops of those mountains certain shepherds
feeding their flocks, and they stood by the highway side. The two
travellers therefore went up to the shepherds, and leaning upon
their staves (as is common with weary travellers when they stand to
talk with any by the way), they asked: Whose delectable mountains
are these? and whose be the sheep that feed upon them? These
mountains, replied the shepherds, are Immanuel's Land, and they are
within sight of the city; the sheep also are His, and He laid down
His life for them. After some more talk like this by the wayside,
the shepherds, being pleased with the pilgrims, looked very
lovingly upon them and said: Welcome to the Delectable Mountains.
The shepherds then, whose names were Knowledge, Experience,
Watchful, and Sincere, took them by the hand to lead them to their
tents, and made them partake of what was ready at present. They
said, moreover: We would that you should stay with us a while to
be acquainted with us, and yet more to solace yourselves with the
cheer of these Delectable Mountains. Then the travellers told them
they were content to stay; and so they went to rest that night
because it was now very late. The four shepherds lived all summer-
time in a lodge of tents well up among their sheep, while their
wives and families had their homes all the year round in the land
of Beulah. The four men formed a happy fraternity, and they worked
among and watched over their Master's sheep with one united mind.
What one of those shepherds could not so well do in the tent or in
the fold or out on the hillside, some of the others better did.
And what one of them could do to any perfection all the others by
one consent left that to him to do. You would have thought that
they were made by a perfect miracle to fit into one another, so
harmoniously did they live and work together, and such was the bond
of brotherly love that held them together. At the same time, there
was one of the happy quaternity who, from his years on the hills,
and his services in times of trial and danger, and one thing and
another, fell always, and with the finest humility too, into the
foremost place, and his name, as you have already heard, was
Knowledge. Old Mr. Know-all the children in the villages below ran
after him and named him as they clustered round his staff and hid
in the great folds of his shepherd's coat.

Now, in all this John Bunyan speaks as a child to children; but, of
such children as John Bunyan and his readers is the kingdom of
heaven. My very youngest hearer here to-night knows quite well,
or, at any rate, shrewdly suspects, that Knowledge was not a
shepherd going about with his staff among woolly sheep; nor would
the simplest-minded reader of John Bunyan's book go to seek the
Delectable Mountains and Immanuel's Land in any geographer's atlas,
or on any schoolroom map. Oh, no. I do not need to stop to tell
the most guileless of my hearers that old Knowledge was not a
shepherd whose sheep were four-footed creatures, but a minister of
the gospel, whose sheep are men, women, and children. Nor are the
Delectable Mountains any range of hills and valleys of grass and
herbs in England or Scotland. The prophet Ezekiel calls them the
mountains of Israel; but by that you all know that he had in his
mind something far better than any earthly mountain. That prophet
of Israel had in his mind the church of God with its synagogues and
its sacraments, with all the grace and truth that all these things
conveyed from God to the children of Israel. As David also sang in
the twenty-third Psalm: 'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not
want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me
beside the still waters.'

Knowledge, then, is a minister; but every congregation has not such
a minister set over it as Knowledge is. All our college-bred and
ordained men are not ministers like Knowledge. This excellent
minister takes his excellent name from his great talents and his
great attainments. And while all his great talents are his
Master's gift to him, his great attainments are all his own to lay
out in his Master's service. To begin with, his Master had given
His highly-favoured servant a good understanding and a good memory,
and many good and suitable opportunities. Now, a good
understanding is a grand endowment for a minister, and his
ministerial office will all his days afford him opportunity for the
best understanding he can bring to it. The Christian ministry,
first and last, has had a noble roll of men of a strong
understanding. The author of the book now open before us was a man
of a strong understanding. John Bunyan had a fine imagination,
with great gifts of eloquent, tender, and most heart-winning
utterance, but in his case also all that was bottomed in a strong
English understanding. Then, again, a good memory is indispensable
to a minister of knowledge. You must be content to take a second,
a third, or even a lower place still if your Master has withheld
from you a good memory. Dr. Goodwin has a passage on this point
that I have often turned up when I had again forgotten it. 'Thou
mayest have a weak memory, perhaps, yet if it can and doth remember
good things as well and better than other things, then it is a
sanctified memory, and the defilement of thy memory is healed
though the imperfection of it is not; and, though thou art to be
humbled for it as a misery, yet thou art not to be discouraged; for
God doth not hate thee for it, but pities thee; and the like holds
good and may be said as to the want of other like gifts.' You
cannot be a man of a commanding knowledge anywhere, and you must be
content to take a very subordinate and second place, even in the
ministry, unless you have both a good understanding and a good
memory; but then, at the last day your Master will not call you and
your congregation to an account for what He has not committed to
your stewardship. And on that day that will be something. But not
only must ministers of knowledge have a good mind and a good
memory; they must also be the most industrious of men. Other men
may squander and kill their time as they please, but a minister had
as good kill himself at once out of the way of better men unless he
is to hoard his hours like gold and jewels. He must read only the
best books, and he must read them with the 'pain of attention.' He
must read nothing that is not the best. He has not the time. And
if he is poor and remote and has not many books, he will have
Butler, and let him read Butler's Preface to his Sermons till he
has it by heart. The best books are always few, and they must be
read over and over again when other men are reading the 'great
number of books and papers of amusement that come daily in their
way, and which most perfectly fall in with their idle way of
reading and considering things.' And, then, such a minister must
store up what he reads, if not in a good memory, then in some other
pigeon-hole that he has made for himself outside of himself, since
his Master has not seen fit to furnish him with such a repository
within himself. And, then, after all that,--for a good minister is
not made yet,--understanding and memory and industry must all be
sanctified by secret prayer many times every day, and then laid out
every day in the instruction, impression, and comfort of his
people. And, then, that privileged people will be as happy in
possessing that man for their minister as the sheep of Immanuel's
Land were in having Knowledge set over them for their shepherd.
They will never look up without being fed. They will every
Sabbath-day be led by green pastures and still waters. And when
they sing of the mercies of the Lord to them and to their children,
and forget not all His benefits, among the best of their benefits
they will not forget to hold up and bless their minister.

But, then, there is, nowadays, so much sound knowledge to be
gained, not to speak of so many books and papers of mere pastime
and amusement, that it may well be asked by a young man who is to
be a minister whether he is indeed called to be like that great
student who took all knowledge for his province. Yes, indeed, he
is. For, if the minister and interpreter of nature is to lay all
possible knowledge under contribution, what must not the minister
of Jesus Christ and the interpreter of Scripture and providence and
experience and the human heart be able to make the sanctified use
of? Yes, all kinds and all degrees of knowledge, to be called
knowledge, belong by right and obligation to his office who is the
minister and interpreter of Him Who made all things, Who is the
Heir of all things, and by Whom all things consist. At the same
time, since the human mind has its limits, and since human life has
its limits, a minister of all men must make up his mind to limit
himself to the best knowledge; the knowledge, that is, that chiefly
concerns him,--the knowledge of God so far as God has made Himself
known, and the knowledge of Christ. He must be a student of his
Bible night and day and all his days. If he has not the strength
of understanding and memory to read his Bible easily in the
original Hebrew and Greek, let him all the more make up for that by
reading it the oftener and the deeper in English. Let him not only
read his Bible deeply for his sermons and prayers, lectures and
addresses, let him do that all day every day of the week, and then
read it all night, and every night of the week, for his own soul.
Let every minister know his Bible down to the bottom, and with his
Bible his own heart. He who so knows his Bible and with it his own
heart has almost books enough. All else is but ostentatious
apparatus. When a minister has neither understanding nor memory
wherewith to feed his flock, let him look deep enough into his
Bible and into his own heart, and then begin out of them to write
and speak. And, then, for the outside knowledge of the passing day
he will read the newspapers, and though he gives up all the morning
to the newspapers, and returns to them again in the evening, his
conscience will not upbraid him if he reads as Jonathan Edwards
read the newsletters of his day,--to see how the kingdom of heaven
is prospering in the earth, and to pray for its prosperity. And,
then, by that time, and when he has got that length, all other
kinds of knowledge will have fallen into its own place, and will
have taken its own proper proportion of his time and his thought.
He was a man of a great understanding and a great memory and great
industry who said that he had taken all knowledge for his province.
But he was a far wiser man who said that knowledge is not our
proper happiness. Our province, he went on to say, is virtue and
religion, life and manners: the science of improving the temper
and making the heart better. This is the field assigned us to
cultivate: how much it has lain neglected is indeed astonishing.

Now, my brethren, two dangers, two simply terrible dangers, arise
to every one of you out of all this matter of your ministers and
their knowledge. 1. The first danger is,--to be frank with you on
this subject,--that you are yourselves so ignorant on all the
matters that a minister has to do with, that you do not know one
minister from another, a good minister from one who is really no
minister at all. Now, I will put it to you, on what principle and
for what reason did you choose your present minister, if, indeed,
you did choose him? Was it because you were assured by people you
could trust that he was a minister of knowledge and knew his own
business? Or was it that when you went to worship with him for
yourself you have not been able ever since to tear yourself away
from him, nor has any one else been able to tear you away, though
some have tried? When you first came to the city, did you give,
can you remember, some real anxiety, rising sometimes into prayer,
as to who your minister among so many ministers was to be? Or did
you choose him and your present seat in his church because of some
real or supposed worldly interest of yours you thought you could
further by taking your letter of introduction to him? Had you
heard while yet at home, had your father and mother talked of such
things to you, that rich men, and men of place and power, political
men and men high in society, sat in that church and took notice of
who attended it and who did not? Do you, down to this day, know
one church from another so far as spiritual and soul-saving
knowledge is concerned? Do you know that two big buildings, called
churches, may stand in the same street, and have men, called
ministers, carrying on certain services in them from week to week,
and yet, for all the purposes for which Christ came and died and
rose again and gave ministers to His church, these two churches and
their ministers are farther asunder than the two poles? Do you
understand what I am saying? Do you understand what I have been
saying all night, or are you one of those of whom the prophet
speaks in blame and in pity as being destroyed for lack of
knowledge? Well, that is your first danger, that you are so
ignorant, and as a consequence, so careless, as not to know one
minister from another.

2. And your second danger in connection with your minister is,
that you have, and may have long had, a good minister, but that you
still remain yourself a bad man. My brethren, be you all sure of
it, there is a special and a fearful danger in having a specially
good minister. Think twice, and make up your mind well, before you
call a specially good minister, or become a communicant, or even an
adherent under a specially good minister. If two bad men go down
together to the pit, and the one has had a good minister, as, God
have mercy on us, sometimes happens, and the other has only had one
who had the name of a minister, the evangelised reprobate will lie
in a deeper bed in hell, and will spend a more remorseful eternity
on it than will the other. No man among you, minister or no
minister, good minister or bad, will be able to sin with impunity.
But he who sins on and on after good preaching will be beaten with
many stripes. 'Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in
Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and
ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and
Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.' 'Thou that hast
knowledge,' says a powerful old preacher, 'canst not sin so cheap
as another that is ignorant. Places of much knowledge'--he was
preaching in the university pulpit of Oxford--'and plentiful in the
means of grace are dear places for a man to sin in. To be drunken
or unclean after a powerful sermon, and after the Holy Ghost has
enlightened thee, is more than to have so sinned twenty times
before. Thou mightest have sinned ten times more and been damned
less. For does not Jesus Christ the Judge say to thee, This is thy
condemnation, that so much light has come to thee?' And, taking
the then way of execution as a sufficiently awful illustration, the
old Oxford Puritan goes on to say that to sin against light is the
highest step of the ladder before turning off. And, again, that if
there are worms in hell that die not, it is surely gospel light
that breeds them.


'My heart had great experience.'--The Preacher.
'I will give them pastors after Mine own heart.'

Experience, the excellent shepherd of the Delectable Mountains, had
a brother in the army, and he was an equally excellent soldier.
The two brothers--they were twin-brothers--had been brought up
together till they were grown-up men in the same town of Mansoul.
All the Experience family, indeed, had from time immemorial hailed
from that populous and important town, and their family tree ran
away back beyond the oldest extant history. The two brothers,
while in all other things as like as two twin-brothers could be, at
the same time very early in life began to exhibit very different
talents and tastes and dispositions; till, when we meet with them
in their full manhood, the one is a soldier in the army and the
other a shepherd on the Delectable Mountains. The soldier-brother
is thus described in one of the military histories of his day: 'A
man of conduct and of valour, and a person prudent in matters. A
comely person, moreover, well-spoken in negotiations, and very
successful in undertakings. His colours were the white colours of
Mansoul and his scutcheon was the dead lion and the dead bear.'

The shepherd-brother, on the other hand, is thus pictured out to us
by one who has seen him. A traveller who has visited the
Delectable Mountains, and has met and talked with the shepherds,
thus describes Experience in his excellent itinerary: 'Knowledge,'
he says, 'I found to be the sage of the company, spare in build,
high of forehead, worn in age, and his tranquil gait touched with
abstractedness. While Experience was more firmly knit in form and
face, with a shrewd kindly eye and a happy readiness in his
bearing, and all his hard-earned wisdom evidently on foot within
him as a capability for work and for control.' This, then, was the
second of the four shepherds, who fed Immanuel's sheep on the
Delectable Mountains.

But here again to-night, and in the case of Experience, just as
last Sabbath night and in the case of Knowledge, in all this John
Bunyan speaks to children,--only the children here are the children
of the kingdom of heaven. The veriest child who reads the
Delectable Mountains begins to suspect before he is done that
Knowledge and Experience are not after all two real and true
shepherds going their rounds with their staves and their wallets
and their wheeling dogs. Yes, though the little fellow cannot put
his suspicions into proper words for you, all the same he has his
suspicions that he is being deceived by you and your Sabbath book;
and, ten to one, from that sceptical day he will not read much more
of John Bunyan till in after-life he takes up John Bunyan never for
a single Sabbath again to lay him down. Yes, let the truth be told
at once, Experience is simply a minister, and not a real shepherd
at all; a minister of the gospel, a preacher, and a pastor; but,
then, he is a preacher and a pastor of no ordinary kind, but of the
selectest and very best kind.

1. Now, my brethren, to plunge at once out of the parable and into
the interpretation, I observe, in the first place, that pastors who
are indeed to be pastors after God's own heart have all to pass
into their pastorate through the school of experience. Preaching
after God's own heart, and pastoral work of the same divine
pattern, cannot be taught in any other school than the school of
experience. Poets may be born and not made, but not pastors nor
preachers. Nay, do not all our best poets first learn in their
sufferings what afterwards they teach us in their songs? At any
rate, that is certainly the case with preachers and pastors. As my
own old minister once said to me in a conversation on this very
subject, 'Even God Himself cannot inspire an experience.' No. For
if He could He would surely have done so in the case of His own
Son, to Whom in the gift of the Holy Ghost He gave all that He
could give and all that His Son could receive. But an experience
cannot in the very nature of things be either bestowed on the one
hand or received and appropriated on the other. An experience in
the unalterable nature of the thing itself must be undergone. The
Holy Ghost Himself after He has been bestowed and received has to
be experimented upon, and taken into this and that need, trial,
cross, and care of life. He is not sent to spare us our
experiences, but to carry us through them. And thus it is (to keep
for a moment in sight of the highest illustration we have of this
law of experience), thus it is, I say, that the apostle has it in
his Epistle to the Hebrews that though Christ Himself were a Son,
yet learned He obedience by the things that He suffered. And being
by experience made perfect He then went on to do such and such
things for us. Why, for instance, for one thing, why do you think
was our Lord able to speak with such extraordinary point,
impressiveness, and assurance about prayer; about the absolute
necessity and certainty of secret, importunate, persevering prayer
having, sooner or later, in one shape or other, and in the best
possible shape, its answer? Why but because of His own experience?
Why but because His own closet, hilltop, all-night, and up-before-
the-day prayers had all been at last heard and better heard than He
had been able to ask? We can quite well read between the lines in
all our Lord's parables and in all the passages of His sermons
about prayer. The unmistakable traces of otherwise untold
enterprises and successes, agonies and victories of prayer, are to
be seen in every such sermon of His. And so, in like manner, in
all that He says to His disciples about the sweetness of
submission, resignation, and self-denial, as also about the
nourishment for His soul that He got out of every hard act of
obedience,--and so on. There is running through all our Lord's
doctrinal and homiletical teaching that note of reality and of
certitude that can only come to any teaching out of the long and
deep and intense experience of the teacher. And as the Master was,
so are all His ministers. When I read, for instance, what William
Law says about the heart-searching and heart-cleansing efficacy of
intercessory prayer in the case of him who continues all his life
so to pray, and carries such prayer through all the experiences and
all the relationships of life, I do not need you to tell me where
that great man of God made that great discovery. I know that he
made it in his own closet, and on his own knees, and in his own
evil heart. And so, also, when I come nearer home. Whenever I
hear a single unconventional, immediate, penetrating, overawing
petition or confession in a minister's pulpit prayer or in his
family worship, I do not need to be told out of what prayer-book he
took that. I know without his telling me that my minister has
been, all unknown to me till now, at that same school of prayer to
which his Master was put in the days of His flesh, and out of which
He brought the experiences that He afterwards put into the Friend
at midnight, and the Importunate widow, as also into the Egg and
the scorpion, the Bread and the stone, the Knocking and the
opening, the Seeking and the finding.

His children thus most dear to Him,
Their heavenly Father trains,
Through all the hard experience led
Of sorrows and of pains.

And if His children, then ten times more the tutors and governors
of His children,--the pastors and the preachers He prepares for His

2. Again, though I will not put those two collegiate shepherds
against one another, yet, in order to bring out the whole truth on
this matter, I will risk so far as to say that where we cannot have
both Knowledge and Experience, by all means let us have Experience.
Yes, I declare to you that if I were choosing a minister for
myself, and could not have both the book-knowledge and the
experience of the Christian life in one and the same man; and could
not have two ministers, one with all the talents and another with
all the experiences; I would say that, much as I like an able and
learned sermon from an able and learned man, I would rather have
less learning and more experience. And, then, no wonder that such
pastors and preachers are few. For how costly must a thoroughly
good minister's experience be to him! What a quantity and what a
quality of experience is needed to take a raw, light-minded,
ignorant, and self-satisfied youth and transform him into the
pastor, the tried and trusted friend of the tempted, the sorrow-
laden, and the shipwrecked hearts and lives in his congregation!
What years and years of the selectest experiences are needed to
teach the average divinity student to know himself, to track out
and run to earth his own heart, and thus to lay open and read other
men's hearts to their self-deceived owners in the light of his own.
A matter, moreover, that he gets not one word of help toward in all
his college curriculum. David was able to say in his old age that
he fed the flock of God in Israel according to the integrity of his
heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. But what
years and years of shortcoming and failure in private and in public
life lie behind that fine word 'integrity'! as also what stumbles
and what blunders behind that other fine word 'skilfulness'! But,
then, how a lightest touch of a preacher's own dear-bought
experience skilfully let fall brightens up an obscure scripture!
How it sends a thrill through a prayer! How it wings an arrow to
the conscience! How it sheds abroad balm upon the heart! Let no
minister, then, lose heart when he is sent back to the school of
experience. He knows in theory that tribulation worketh patience,
and patience experience, but it is not theory, but experience, that
makes a minister after God's own heart. I sometimes wish that I
may live to see a chair of Experimental Religion set up in all our
colleges. I fear it is a dream, and that it must have been
pronounced impracticable long ago by our wisest heads. Still, all
the same, that does not prevent me from again and again indulging
my dream. I indulge my fond dream again as often as I look back on
my own tremendous mistakes in the management of my own personal and
ministerial life, as well as sometimes see some signs of the same
mistakes in some other ministers. In my dream for the Church of
the future I see the programme of lectures in the Experimental
Class and the accompanying examinations. I see the class library,
and I envy the students. I am present at the weekly book-day, and
at the periodical addresses delivered to the class by those town
and country ministers who have been most skilful in their pastorate
and most successful in the conversion and in the character of their
people. And, unless I wholly deceive myself, I see, not all the
class--that will never be till the millennium--but here and there
twos and threes, and more men than that, who will throw their whole
hearts into the work of such a class till they come out of the hall
in experimental religion like Sir Proteus in the play:

Their years but young, but their experience old,
Their heads unmellowed, but their judgment ripe.

It is quite true, that, as my old minister shrewdly said to me,
even the Holy Ghost cannot inspire an experience. No. But a class
of genuine experimental divinity would surely help to foster and
develop an experience. And, till the class is established, any
student who has the heart for it may lay in the best of the class
library for a few shillings. Mr. Thin will tell you that there is
no literature that is such a drug in the market as the best books
of Experimental Divinity. No wonder, then, that we make such slow
and short way in the skilfulness, success, and acceptance of our
preaching and our pastorate.

3. But, at the same time, my brethren, all your ministers'
experience of personal religion will be lost upon you unless you
are yourselves attending the same school. The salvation of the
soul, you must understand, is not offered to ministers only.
Ministers are not the only men who are, to begin with, dead in
trespasses and sins. The Son of God did not die for ministers
only. The Holy Ghost is not offered to ministers only. A clean,
humble, holy heart is not to be the pursuit of ministers only. It
is not to His ministers only that our Lord says, Take up My yoke
and learn of Me. The daily cross is not the opportunity of
ministers only. It is not to ministers only that tribulation
worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. It
was to all who had obtained like precious faith with their
ministers that Peter issued this exhortation that they were to give
all diligence to add to their faith virtue, and to virtue
knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance
patience,--and so on. Now, my brethren, unless all that is on foot
in yourselves, as well as in your ministers, then their progress in
Christian experience will only every new Sabbath-day separate you
and your ministers further and further away from one another. When
a minister is really making progress himself in the life of
religion that progress must come out, and ought to come out, both
in his preaching and in his prayers. And, then, two results of all
that will immediately begin to manifest themselves among his
people. Some of his people will visibly, and still more will
invisibly, make corresponding progress with their minister; while
some others, alas! will fall off in interest, in understanding, and
in sympathy till at last they drop off from his ministry
altogether. That is an old law in the Church of God: 'like people
like priest,' and 'like priest like people.' And while there are
various influences at work retarding and perplexing the immediate
operation of that law, at the same time, he who has eyes to see
such things in a congregation and in a community will easily see
Hosea's great law of congregational selection in operation every
day. Like people gradually gravitate to like preachers. You will
see, if you have the eyes, congregations gradually dissolving and
gradually being consolidated again under that great law. You will
see friendships and families even breaking up and flying into
pieces; and, again, new families and new friendships being built up
on that very same law. If you were to study the session books of
our city congregations in the light of that law, you would get
instruction. If you just studied who lifted their lines, and why;
and, again, what other people came and left their lines, and why,
you would get instruction. The shepherds in Israel did not need to
hunt up and herd their flocks like the shepherds in Scotland. A
shepherd on the mountains of Israel had nothing more to do than
himself pass up into the pasture lands and then begin to sing a
psalm or offer a prayer, when, in an instant, his proper sheep were
all round about him. The sheep knew their own shepherd's voice,
and they fled from the voice of a stranger. And so it is with a
true preacher,--a preacher of experience, that is. His own people
know no voice like his voice. He does not need to bribe and
flatter and run after his people. He may have, he usually has, but
few people as people go in our day, and the better the preacher
sometimes the smaller the flock. It was so in our Master's case.
The multitude followed after the loaves but they fled from the
feeding doctrines, till He first tasted that dejection and that
sense of defeat which so many of His best servants are fed on in
this world. Still, as our Lord did not tune His pulpit to the
taste of the loungers of Galilee, no more will a minister worth the
name do anything else but press deeper and deeper into the depths
of truth and life, till, as was the case with his Master, his
followers, though few, will be all the more worth having. The
Delectable Mountains are wide and roomy. They roll far away both
before and behind. Immanuel's Land is a large place, and there are
many other shepherds among those hills and valleys besides
Knowledge and Experience and Watchful and Sincere. And each
several shepherd has, on the whole, his own sheep. Knowledge has
his; Experience has his; Watchful has his; and Sincere has his; and
all the other here unnamed shepherds have all theirs also. For,
always, like shepherd like sheep. Yes. Hosea must have been
something in Israel somewhat analogous to a session-clerk among
ourselves. 'Like priest like people' is certainly a digest of some
such experience. Let some inquisitive beginner in Hebrew this
winter search out the prophet upon that matter, consulting Mr.
Hutcheson and Dr. Pusey, and he will let me hear the result.

4. Now, my brethren, in closing, we must all keep it clearly
before our minds, and that too every day we live, that God orders
and overrules this whole world, and, indeed, keeps it going very
much just that He may by means of it make unceasing experiment upon
His people. Experiment, you know, results in experience. There is
no other way by which any man can attain to a religious experience
but by undergoing temptation, trial, tribulation:- experiment. And
it gives a divine dignity to all things, great and small, good and
bad, when we see them all taken up into God's hand, in order that
by means of them He may make for Himself an experienced people.
Human life on this earth, when viewed under this aspect, is one
vast workshop. And all the shafts and wheels and pulleys; all the
crushing hammers, and all the whirling knives; all the furnaces and
smelting-pots; all the graving tools and smoothing irons, are all
so many divinely-designed and divinely-worked instruments all
directed in upon this one result,--our being deeply experienced in
the ways of God till we are for ever fashioned into His nature and
likeness. Our faith in the unseen world and in our unseen God and
Saviour is at one time put to the experiment. At another time it
is our love to Him; the reality of it, and the strength of it. At
another time it is our submission and our resignation to His will.
At another time it is our humility, or our meekness, or our
capacity for self-denial, or our will and ability to forgive an
injury, or our perseverance in still unanswered prayer; and so on
the ever-shifting but never-ceasing experiment goes. I do beseech
you, my brethren, take that true view of life home with you again
this night. This true view of life, namely, that experience in the
divine life can only come to you through your being much
experimented upon. Meet all your trials and tribulations and
temptations, then, under this assurance, that all things will work
together for good to you also if you are only rightly exercised by
means of them. Nothing else but this growing experience and this
settling assurance will be able to support you under the sudden
ills of life; but this will do it. This, when you begin by
experience to see that all this life, and all the good and all the
ill of this life, are all under this splendid divine law,--that
your tribulations also are indeed working within you a patience,
and your patience an experience, and your experience a hope that
maketh not ashamed.


'Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of
Israel.'--The word of the Lord to Ezekiel.

'They watch for your souls.'--The Apostle to the Hebrews.

There were four shepherds who had the care of Immanuel's sheep on
the Delectable Mountains, and their names were Knowledge,
Experience, Watchful, and Sincere. Now, in that very beautiful
episode of his great allegory, John Bunyan is doing his very utmost
to impress upon all his ministerial readers how much there is that
goes to the making of a good minister, and how much every good
minister has to do. Each several minister must do all that in him
lies, from the day of his ordination to the day of his death, to be
all to his people that those four shepherds were to Immanuel's
sheep. He is to labour, in season and out of season, to be a
minister of the ripest possible knowledge, the deepest and widest
possible experience, the most sleepless watchfulness, and the most
absolute and scrupulous sincerity. Now, enough has perhaps been
said already about a minister's knowledge and his experience;
enough, certainly, and more than enough for some of us to hope half
to carry out; and, therefore, I shall at once go on to take up
Watchful, and to supply, so far as I am able, the plainest possible
interpretation of this part of Bunyan's parable.

1. Every true minister, then, watches, in the words of the
apostle, for the souls of his people. An ordinary minister's
everyday work embraces many duties and offers many opportunities,
but through all his duties and through all his opportunities there
runs this high and distinctive duty of watching for the souls of
his people. A minister may be a great scholar, he may have taken
all sacred learning for his province, he may be a profound and a
scientific theologian, he may be an able church leader, he may be a
universally consulted authority on ecclesiastical law, he may be a
skilful and successful debater in church courts, he may even be a
great pulpit orator, holding thousands entranced by his impassioned
eloquence; but a true successor of the prophets of the Old
Testament and of the apostles of the New Testament he is not,
unless he watches for the souls of men. All these endowments, and
all these occupations, right and necessary as, in their own places,
they all are,--great talents, great learning, great publicity,
great popularity,--all tend, unless they are taken great care of,
to lead their possessors away from all time for, and from all
sympathy with, the watchfulness of the New Testament minister.
Watching over a flock brings to you none of the exhilaration of
authority and influence, none of the intoxication of publicity and
applause. Your experiences are the quite opposite of all these
things when you are watching over your flock. Your work among your
flock is all done in distant and lonely places, on hillsides, among
woods and thickets, and in cloudy and dark days. You spend your
strength among sick and dying and wandering sheep, among wolves and
weasels, and what not, of that verminous kind. At the same time,
all good pastors are not so obscure and forgotten as all that.
Some exceptionally able and exceptionally devoted and self-
forgetful men manage to combine both extremes of a minister's
duties and opportunities in themselves. Our own Sir Henry
Moncreiff was a pattern pastor. There was no better pastor in
Edinburgh in his day than dear Sir Henry was; and yet, at the same
time, everybody knows what an incomparable ecclesiastical casuist
Sir Henry was. Mr. Moody, again, is a great preacher, preaching to
tens of thousands of hearers at a time; but, at the same time, Mr.
Moody is one of the most skilful and attentive pastors that ever
took individual souls in hand and kept them over many years in
mind. But these are completely exceptional men, and what I want to
say to commonplace and limited and everyday men like myself is
this, that watching for the souls of our people, one by one, day in
and day out,--that, above everything else, that, and nothing else,-
-makes any man a pastor of the apostolic type. An able man may
know all about the history, the habitat, the various species, the
breeds, the diseases, and the prices of sheep, and yet be nothing
at all of a true shepherd. And so may a minister.

2. Pastoral visitation, combined with personal dealing, is by far
the best way of watching for souls. I well remember when I first
began my ministry in this congregation, how much I was impressed
with what one of the ablest and best of our then ministers was
reported to have testified on his deathbed. Calling back to his
bedside a young minister who had come to see him, the dying man
said: 'Prepare for the pulpit; above everything else you do,
prepare for the pulpit. Let me again repeat it, should it at any
time stand with you between visiting a death-bed and preparing for
the pulpit, prepare for the pulpit.' I was immensely impressed
with that dying injunction when it was repeated to me, but I have
lived,--I do not say to put my preparation for the pulpit, such as
it is, second to my more pastoral work in my week's thoughts, but--
to put my visiting in the very front rank and beside my pulpit.
'We never were accustomed to much visiting,' said my elders to me
in their solicitude for their young minister when he was first left
alone with this whole charge; 'only appear in your own pulpit twice
on Sabbath: keep as much at home as possible: we were never used
to much visiting, and we do not look for it.' Well, that was most
kindly intended; but it was much more kind than wise. For I have
lived to learn that no congregation will continue to prosper, or,
if other more consolidated and less exacting congregations, at any
rate not this congregation, without constant pastoral attention.
And remember, I do not complain of that. Far, far from that. For
I am as sure as I am of anything connected with a minister's life,
that a minister's own soul will prosper largely in the measure that
the souls of his people prosper through his pastoral work. No
preaching, even if it were as good preaching as the apostle's
itself, can be left to make up for the neglect of pastoral
visitation and personal intercourse. 'I taught you from house to
house,' says Paul himself, when he was resigning the charge of the
church of Ephesus into the hands of the elders of Ephesus. What
would we ministers not give for a descriptive report of an
afternoon's house-to-house visitation by the Apostle Paul! Now in
a workshop, now at a sickbed, now with a Greek, now with a Jew,
and, in every case, not discussing politics and cursing the
weather, not living his holidays over again and hearing of all the
approaching marriages, but testifying to all men in his own
incomparably winning and commanding way repentance toward God and
faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. We city ministers call out and
complain that we have no time to visit our people in their own
houses; but that is all subterfuge. If the whole truth were told
about the busiest of us, it is not so much want of time as want of
intention; it is want of set and indomitable purpose to do it; it
is want of method and of regularity such as all business men must
have; and it is want, above all, of laying out every hour of every
day under the Great Taskmaster's eye. Many country ministers
again,--we, miserable men that we are, are never happy or well
placed,--complain continually that their people are so few, and so
scattered, and so ignorant, and so uninteresting, and so
unresponsive, that it is not worth their toil to go up and down in
remote places seeking after them. It takes a whole day among bad
roads and wet bogs to visit a shepherd's wife and children, and two
or three bothies and pauper's hovels on the way home. 'On the
morrow,' so runs many an entry in Thomas Boston's Memoirs, 'I
visited the sick, and spent the afternoon in visiting others, and
found gross ignorance prevailing. Nothing but stupidity prevailed;
till I saw that I had enough to do among my handful. I had another
diet of catechising on Wednesday afternoon, and the discovery I
made of the ignorance of God and of themselves made me the more
satisfied with the smallness of my charge . . . Twice a year I
catechised the parish, and once a year I visited their families.
My method of visitation was this. I made a particular application
of my doctrine in the pulpit to the family, exhorted them all to
lay all these things to heart, exhorted them also to secret prayer,
supposing they kept family worship, urged their relative duties
upon them,' etc. etc. And then at his leaving Ettrick, he writes:
'Thus I parted with a people whose hearts were knit to me and mine
to them. The last three or four years had been much blessed, and
had been made very comfortable to me, not in respect of my own
handful only, but others of the countryside also.' Jonathan
Edwards called Thomas Boston 'that truly great divine.' I am not
such a judge of divinity as Jonathan Edwards was, but I always call
Boston to myself that truly great pastor. But my lazy and
deceitful heart says to me: No praise to Boston, for he lived and
did his work in the quiet Forest of Ettrick. True, so he did.
Well, then, look at the populous and busy town of Kidderminster.
And let me keep continually before my abashed conscience that hard-
working corpse Richard Baxter. Absolutely on the same page on
which that dying man enters diseases and medicines enough to fill a
doctor's diary after a whole day in an incurable hospital, that
noble soul goes on to say: 'I preached before the wars twice each
Lord's Day, but after the wars but once, and once every Thursday,
besides occasional sermons. Every Thursday evening my neighbours
that were most desirous, and had opportunity, met at my house. Two
days every week my assistant and I myself took fourteen families
between us for private catechising and conference; he going through
the parish, and the town coming to me. I first heard them recite
the words of the Catechism, and then examined them about the sense,
and lastly urged them, with all possible engaging reason and
vehemency, to answerable affection and practice. If any of them
were stalled through ignorance or bashfulness, I forbore to press
them, but made them hearers, and turned all into instruction and
exhortation. I spent about an hour with a family, and admitted no
others to be present, lest bashfulness should make it burdensome,
or any should talk of the weakness of others.' And then he tells
how his people's necessity made him practise physic among them,
till he would have twenty at his door at once. 'All these my
employments were but my recreations, and, as it were, the work of
my spare hours. For my writings were my chiefest daily labour.
And blessed be the God of mercies that brought me from the grave
and gave me, after wars and sickness, fourteen years' liberty in
such sweet employment!' Let all ministers who would sit at home
over a pipe and a newspaper with a quiet conscience keep Boston's
Memoirs and Baxter's Reliquiae at arm's-length.

3. Our young communicants' classes, and still more, those private
interviews that precede and finish up our young communicants'
classes, are by far our best opportunities as pastors. I remember
Dr. Moody Stuart telling me long ago that he had found his young
communicants' classes to be the most fruitful opportunities of all
his ministry; as, also, next to them, times of baptism in families.
And every minister who tries to be a minister at all after Dr.
Moody Stuart's pattern, will tell you something of the same thing.
They get at the opening history of their young people's hearts
before their first communion. They make shorthand entries and
secret memoranda at such a season like this: 'A. a rebuke to me.
He had for long been astonished at me that I did not speak to him
about his soul. B. traced his conversion to the singing of 'The
sands of time are sinking' in this church last summer. C. was
spoken to by a room-mate. D. was to be married, and she died. Of
E. I have great hope. F., were she anywhere but at home, I would
have great hopes of her,'--and so on. But, then, when a minister
takes boldness to turn over the pages of his young communicants'
roll for half a lifetime--ah me, ah me! What was I doing to let
that so promising communicant go so far astray, and I never to go
after him? And that other. And that other. And that other. Till
we can read no more. O God of mercy, when Thou inquirest after
blood, let me be hidden in the cleft of that Rock so deeply cleft
for unwatchful ministers!

4. And then, as Dr. Joseph Parker says, who says everything so
plainly and so powerfully: 'There is pastoral preaching as well as
pastoral visitation. There is pastoral preaching; rich revelation
of divine truth; high, elevating treatment of the Christian
mysteries; and he is the pastor to me who does not come to my house
to drink and smoke and gossip and show his littleness, but who, out
of a rich experience, meets me with God's word at every turn of my
life, and speaks the something to me that I just at that moment
want.' Let us not have less pastoral visitation in the time to
come, but let us have more and more of such pastoral preaching.

5. But, my brethren, it is time for you, as John said to the elect
lady and her children, to look to yourselves. The salvation of
your soul is precious, and its salvation is such a task, such a
battle, such a danger, and such a risk, that it will take all that
your most watchful minister can do, and all that you can do
yourself, and all that God can do for you, and yet your soul will
scarcely be saved after all. You do not know what salvation is nor
what it costs. You will not be saved in your sleep. You will not
waken up at the last day and find yourself saved by the grace of
God and you not know it. You will know it to your bitter cost
before your soul is saved from sin and death. You and your
minister too. And therefore it is that He Who is to judge your
soul at last says to you, as much as He says it to any of His
ministers, Watch! What I say unto one I say unto all, Watch.
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Look to yourself,
then, sinner. In Christ's name, look to yourself and watch
yourself. You have no enemy to fear but yourself. No one can hurt
a hair of your head but yourself. Have you found that out? Have
you found yourself out? Do you ever look in the direction of your
own heart? Have you begun to watch what goes on in your own heart?
What is it to you what goes on in the world around you compared
with what goes on in the world within you? Look, then, to
yourself. Watch, above all watching, yourself. Watch what it is
that moves you to do this or that. Stop sometimes and ask yourself
why you do such and such a thing. Did you ever hear of such a
thing as a motive in a human heart? And did your minister,
watching for your soul, ever tell you that your soul will be lost
or saved, condemned or justified at the last day according to your
motives? You never knew that! You were never told that by your
minister! Miserable pair! What does he take up his Sabbaths with?
And what leads you to waste your Sabbaths and your soul on such a
stupid minister? But, shepherd or no shepherd, minister or no
minister, look to yourself. Look to yourself when you lie down and
when you rise up; when you go out and when you come in; when you
are in the society of men and when you are alone with your own
heart. Look to yourself when men praise you, and look to yourself
when men blame you. Look to yourself when you sit down to eat and
drink, and still more when you sit and speak about your absent
brother. Look to yourself when you meet your enemy or your rival
in the street, when you pass his house, or hear or read his name.
Yes, you may well say so. At that rate a man's life would be all
watching. So it would. And so it must. And more than that, so it
is with some men not far from you who never told you how much you
have made them watch. Did you never know all that till now? Were
you never told that every Christian man, I do not mean every
communicant, but every truly and sincerely and genuinely Christian
man watches himself in that way? For as the one essential and
distinguishing mark of a New Testament minister is not that he is
an able man, or a studious man, or an eloquent man, but that he is
a pastor and watches for souls, so it is the chiefest and the best
mark, and to himself the only safe and infallible mark, that any
man is a sincere and true Christian man, that he watches himself
always and in all things looks first and last to himself.


'In all things showing sincerity.'--Paul to Titus.

Charles Bennett has a delightful drawing of Sincere in Charles
Kingsley's beautiful edition of The Pilgrim's Progress. You feel
that you could look all day into those clear eyes. Your eyes would
begin to quail before you had looked long into the fourth
shepherd's deep eyes; but those eyes of his have no cause to quail
under yours. This man has nothing to hide from you. He never had.
He loves you, and his love to you is wholly without dissimulation.
He absolutely and unreservedly means and intends by you and yours
all that he has ever said to you and yours, and much more than he
has ever been able to say. The owner of those deep blue eyes is as
true to you when he is among your enemies as he is true to the
truth itself when he is among your friends. Mark also the
unobtrusive strength of his mouth, all suffused over as it is with
a most winning and reassuring sweetness. The fourth shepherd of
the Delectable Mountains is one of the very best of Bennett's
excellent portraits. But Mr. Kerr Bain's pen-and-ink portrait of
Sincere in his People of the Pilgrimage is even better than
Bennett's excellent drawing. 'Sincere is softer in outline and
feature than Watchful. His eye is full-open and lucid, with a face
of mingled expressiveness and strength--a lovable, lowly, pure-
spirited man--candid, considerate, willing, cheerful--not speaking
many words, and never any but true words.' Happy sheep that have
such a shepherd! Happy people! if only any people in the Church of
Christ could have such a pastor.

It is surely too late, too late or too early, to begin to put tests
to a minister's sincerity after he has been licensed and called and
is now standing in the presence of his presbytery and surrounded
with his congregation. It is a tremendous enough question to put
to any man at any time: 'Are not zeal for the honour of God, love
to Jesus Christ, and desire of saving souls your great motives and
chief inducement to enter into the function of the holy ministry?'
A man who does not understand what it is you are saying to him will
just make the same bow to these awful words that he makes to all
your other conventional questions. But the older he grows in his
ministry, and the more he comes to discover the incurable plague of
his own heart, and with that the whole meaning and full weight of
your overwhelming words, the more will he shrink back from having
such questions addressed to him. Fools will rush in where Moses
and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Peter and Paul feared to set their
foot. Paul was to be satisfied if only he was let do the work of a
minister all his days and then was not at the end made a castaway.
And yet, writing to the same church, Paul says that his sincerity
among them had been such that he could hold up his ministerial life
like spotless linen between the eye of his conscience and the sun.
But all that was written and is to be read and understood as Paul's
ideal that he had honestly laboured after, rather than as an actual
attainment he had arrived at. Great as Paul's attainments were in
humility, in purity of intention, and in simplicity and sincerity
of heart, yet the mind of Christ was not so given even to His most
gifted apostle, that he could seriously say that he had attained to
such utter ingenuity, simplicity, disengagement from himself, and
surrender to Christ, as to be able to face the sun with a spotless
ministry. All he ever says at his boldest and best on that great
matter is to be read in the light of his universal law of personal
and apostolic imperfection--Not that I have attained, either am
already perfect; but I follow after. And blessed be God that this
is all that He looks for in any of His ministers, that they follow
all their days after a more and more godly sincerity. It was the
apostle's love of absolute sincerity,--and, especially, it was his
bitter hatred of all the remaining dregs of insincerity that he
from time to time detected in his own heart,--it was this that gave
him his good conscience before a God of pity and compassion, truth
and grace. And with something of the same love of perfect
sincerity, accompanied with something of the same hatred of
insincerity and of ourselves on account of it, we, too, toward this
same God of pity and compassion, will hold up a conscience that
would fain be a good conscience. And till it is a good conscience
we shall hold up with it a broken heart. And that genuine love of
all sincerity, and that equally genuine hatred of all remaining
insincerity, will make all our ministerial work, as it made all
Paul's apostolic work, not only acceptable, but will also make its
very defects and defeats both acceptable and fruitful in the
estimation and result of God. It so happens that I am reading for
my own private purposes at this moment an old book of 1641,
Drexilius On a Right Intention, and I cannot do better at this
point than share with you the page I am just reading. 'Not to be
too much troubled or daunted at any cross event,' he says, 'is the
happy state of his mind who has entered on any enterprise with a
pure and pious intention. That great apostle James gained no more
than eight persons in all Spain when he was called to lay down his
head under Herod's sword. And was not God ready to give the same
reward to James as to those who converted kings and whole kingdoms?
Surely He was. For God does not give His ministers a charge as to
what they shall effect, but only as to what they shall intend to
effect. Wherefore, when his art faileth a servant of God, when
nothing goes forward, when everything turneth to his ruin, even
when his hope is utterly void, he is scarce one whit troubled; for
this, saith he to himself, is not in my power, but in God's power
alone. I have done what I could. I have done what was fit for me
to do. Fair and foul is all of God's disposing.'

And, then, this simplicity and purity of intention gives a minister
that fine combination of candour and considerateness which we saw
to exist together so harmoniously in the character of Sincere.
Such a minister is not tongue-tied with sinister and selfish
intentions. His sincerity toward God gives him a masterful
position among his people. His words of rebuke and warning go
straight to his people's consciences because they come straight out
of his own conscience. His words are their own witness that he is
neither fearing his people nor fawning upon his people in speaking
to them. And, then, such candour prepares the way for the utmost
considerateness when the proper time comes for considerateness.
Such a minister is patient with the stupid, and even with the
wicked and the injurious, because in all their stupidity and
wickedness and injuriousness they have only injured and
impoverished themselves. And if God is full of patience and pity
for the ignorant and the evil and the out of the way, then His
sincere-hearted minister is of all men the very man to carry the
divine message of forgiveness and instruction to such sinners.
Yes, Mr. Bain must have seen Sincere closely and in a clear light
when he took down this fine feature of his character, that he is at
once candid and considerate--with a whole face of mingled
expressiveness and strength.

Writing about sincerity and a right intention in young ministers,
old Drexilius says: 'When I turn to clergymen, I would have sighs
and groans to speak for me. For, alas! I am afraid that there be
found some which come into the ministry, not that they may obtain a
holy office in which to spend their life, but for worse ends. To
enter the ministry with a naughty intention is to come straight to
destruction. Let no minister think at any time of a better living,
but only at all times of a holier life. Wherefore, O ministers and
spiritual men, consider and take heed. There can be no safe guide
to your office but a right, sincere, pure intention. Whosoever
cometh to it with any other conduct or companion must either return
to his former state of life, or here he shall certainly perish . .
. What is more commendable in a religious man than to be always in
action and to be exercised one while in teaching the ignorant,
another while in comforting such as are troubled in mind, sometimes
in making sermons, and sometimes in admonishing the sick? But with
what secret malignity doth a wrong intention insinuate itself into
these very actions that are the most religious! For ofttimes we
desire nothing else but to be doing. We desire to become public,
not that we may profit many, but because we have not learned how to
be private. We seek for divers employments, not that we may avoid
idleness, but that we may come into people's knowledge. We despise
a small number of hearers, and such as are poor, simple, and
rustical, and let fly our endeavours at more eminent chairs, though
not in apparent pursuit; all which is the plain argument of a
corrupt intention. O ye that wait upon religion, O ministers of
God, this is to sell most transcendent wares at a very low rate--
nay, this is to cast them, and yourselves too, into the fire.'

There are some outstanding temptations to insincerity in some
ministers that must be pointed out here. (1) Ministers with a warm
rhetorical temperament are beset continually with the temptation to
pile up false fire on the altar; to dilate, that is, both in their
prayers and in their sermons, upon certain topics in a style that
is full of insincerity. Ministers who have no real hold of divine
things in themselves will yet fill their pulpit hour with the most
florid and affecting pictures of sacred and even of evangelical
things. This is what our shrewd and satirical people mean when
they say of us that So-and-so has a great SOUGH of the gospel in
his preaching, but the SOUGH only. (2) Another kindred temptation
to even the best and truest of ministers is to make pulpit appeals
about the evil of sin and the necessity of a holy life that they
themselves do not feel and do not attempt to live up to. Butler
has a terrible passage on the heart-hardening effects of making
pictures of virtue and never trying to put those pictures into
practice. And readers of Newman will remember his powerful
application of this same temptation to literary men in his fine
sermon on Unreal Words. (3) Another temptation is to affect an
interest in our people and a sympathy with them that we do not in
reality feel. All human life is full of this temptation to double-
dealing and hypocrisy; but, then, it is large part of a minister's
office to feel with and for his people, and to give the tenderest
and the most sacred expression to that feeling. And, unless he is
a man of a scrupulously sincere, true, and tender heart, his daily
duties will soon develop him into a solemn hypocrite. And if he
feels only for his own people, and for them only when they become
and as long as they remain his own people, then his insincerity and
imposture is only the more abominable in the sight of God. (4)
Archbishop Whately, with that strong English common sense and that
cultivated clear-headedness that almost make him a writer of
genius, points out a view of sincerity that it behoves ministers
especially to cultivate in themselves. He tells us not only to act
always according to our convictions, but also to see that our
convictions are true and unbiassed convictions. It is a very
superficial sincerity even when we actually believe what we profess
to believe. But that is a far deeper and a far nobler sincerity
which watches with a strict and severe jealousy over the formation
of our beliefs and convictions. Ministers must, first for
themselves and then for their people, live far deeper down than
other men. They must be at home among the roots, not of actions
only, but much more of convictions. We may act honestly enough out
of our present convictions and principles, while, all the time, our
convictions and our principles are vitiated at bottom by the
selfish ground they ultimately stand in. Let ministers, then, to
begin with, live deep down among the roots of their opinions and
their beliefs. Let them not only flee from being consciously
insincere and hypocritical men; let them keep their eye like the
eye of God continually on that deep ground of the soul where so
many men unknown to themselves deceive themselves. And, thus
exercised, they shall be able out of a deep and clean heart to rise
far above that trimming and hedging and self-seeking and self-
sheltering in disputed and unpopular questions which is such a
temptation to all men, and is such a shame and scandal in a

Now, my good friends, we have kept all this time to the fourth
shepherd and to his noble name, but let us look in closing at some
of his sheep,--that is to say, at ourselves. For is it not said in
the prophet: Ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I
am your God, saith the Lord God. All, therefore, that has been
said about the sincerity and insincerity of ministers is to be said
equally of their people also in all their special and peculiar
walks of life. Sincerity is as noble a virtue, and insincerity is
as detestable a vice, in a doctor, or a lawyer, or a schoolmaster,
or a merchant,--almost, if not altogether, as much so as in a
minister. Your insincerity and hypocrisy in your daily intercourse
with your friends and neighbours is a miserable enough state of
mind, but at the root of all that there lies your radical
insincerity toward God and your own soul. In his Christian
Perfection William Law introduces his readers to a character called
Julius, who goes regularly to prayers, and there confesses himself
to be a miserable sinner who has no health in him; and yet that
same Julius cannot bear to be informed of any imperfection or
suspected to be wanting in any kind or degree of virtue. Now, Law
asks, can there be a stronger proof that Julius is wanting in the
sincerity of his devotions? Is it not as plain as anything can be
that that man's confessions of sin are only words of course, a
certain civility of sacred speech in which his heart has not a
single atom of share? Julius confesses himself to be in great
weakness, corruption, disorder, and infirmity, and yet he is
mortally angry with you if at any time you remotely and tenderly
hint that he may be just a shade wrong in his opinions, or one
hair's-breadth off what is square and correct in his actions. Look
to yourself, Julius, and to your insincere heart. Look to yourself
at all times, but above all other times at the times and in the
places of your devotions. Ten to one, my hearer of to-night, you
may never have thought of that before. And what would you think if
you were told that this Sincere shepherd was appointed us for this
evening's discourse, and that you were led up to this house, just
that you might have your attention turned to your many miserable
insincerities of all kinds, but especially to your so Julius-like
devotions? 'And Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man. And
David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.'

What, then, my truly miserable fellow-sinner and fellow-worshipper,
what are we to do? Am I to give up preaching altogether because I
am continually carried on under the impulse of the pulpit far
beyond both my attainments and my intentions? Am I to cease from
public prayer altogether because when engaged in it I am compelled
to utter words of contrition and confession and supplication that
little agree with the everyday temper and sensibility of my soul?
And am I wholly to eschew pastoral work because my heart is not so
absolutely clean and simple and sincere toward all my own people
and toward other ministers' people as it ought to be? No! Never!
Never! Let me rather keep my heart of such earth and slag in the
hottest place of temptation, and then, such humiliating discoveries
as are there continually being made to me of myself will surely at
last empty me of all self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, and
make me at the end of my ministry, if not till then, the penitent
pastor of a penitent people. And when thus penitent, then surely,
also somewhat more sincere in my designs and intentions, if not
even then in my attainments and performances.

'O Eternal God, Who hast made all things for man, and man for Thy
glory, sanctify my body and my soul, my thoughts and my intentions,
my words and my actions, that whatsoever I shall think or speak or
do may be by me designed to the glory of Thy name. O God, turn my
necessities into virtue, and the works of nature into the works of
grace, by making them orderly, regular, temperate, subordinate, and
profitable to ends beyond their own proper efficacy. And let no
pride or self-seeking, no covetousness or revenge, no impure
mixtures or unhandsome purposes, no little ends and low
imaginations, pollute my spirit or unhallow any of my words or
actions. But let my body be the servant of my spirit, and both
soul and body servants of my Lord, that, doing all things for Thy
glory here, I may be made a partaker of Thy glory hereafter;
through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.'


{1} Delivered on the Sabbath before Communion.

{2} Delivered June 26th, 1892, on the eve of a general election.

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