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AUTHOR OF "THE PREACHER'S COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF RUTH."
“Give us as many anecdotes as you can."
DR. JOHNSON (to Boswell).
"I was glad to hear you give that solemn personal incident in your discourse last night. Ministers now-a-days are getting above telling a story in a sermon; but I like to hear it.” So said Judge MʻLean to Dr. Cuyler. Christ's teaching was pre-eminently illustrative, imaginative, anecdotal ; and it is one of the strange ironies of the situation, that those who profess to follow His doctrines should ignore, or almost ignore, the method He used continually to enforce those doctrines. More especially is this strange, when that method has proved itself so profoundly successful, and so completely adapted to the end in view; and when, moreover, it is as philosophical as it is simple. Lord Bolingbroke well says—" Abstract or general propositions, though never so true, appear obscure or doubtful to us, very often, till they are explained by examples.” And it is to “Truth embodied in a tale” our Poet Laureate has given the palm ; “Where truth in closest words shall fail.” · Can anything be more dreary than a day's reading of the ordinary sermons of the past generation? Theology violently divorced from human life becomes inevitably dull and acrid, stale and unprofitable. How many hearers have sat in the condition so graphically described by Emerson—the snowstorm without, real and beautiful, the preacher within, “merely spectral;" listening to one who had never learned “the capital secret of his profession, namely, to convert life into truth !” It is the wise saying of a great modern preacher, “If a man cannot speak the language of men, he will stand outside of mankind, in spite of all he can do," How these divine verities we preach affect humanity to-day is the great question, and if we are wise advocates for Christ we shall quote precedent and example, we shall illustrate and exemplify; just as the skilled lawyer does, in order that he may prove his case. The whole field of sacred and profane literature is ours, as well as the open pages of that Holy Book whose words have quickening power unto eternal life.
A healthy reaction in this direction is characteristic of the present age.