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®fe QHtptimt jtotoiji Vol. ii. No. 21. APRIL 1893. Price One Penny. The Ruling Ideas in the Evangelical Sermon. AN ADDRESS Delivered to the Students of Trevecca College, BY Rev. J. MORRIS, D.D., of the Memorial College, Brf:con. MANY Ministers in the present day give themselves an almost unlimited latitude in the range of sub¬ jects which they preach about to their people. Science, literature, art, philosophy, and political economy, are not excluded trom their homilies. Some do this for the sake of giving variety and freshness to their ministrations. If we can't give freshness and variety to our Sermons without detract¬ ing from our proper themes, it is a clear proof that we have mistaken our vocation. The history of the Pulpit in England and in Wales, furnishes us with abundant proofs that we need not forsake our proper function in order to excite and keep up the interest of our hearers. One familiar and honoured name will at once occur to you as a striking instance of the power of the Gospel, undiluted and unsupplemented, to interest large assem¬ blies in the highest degree. The lamented Spurgeon was able to interest a great congregation of five or six thousand people for about forty years, and yet he limited himself to the cardinal and characteristic truth of Christianity If we are not able to interest our hearers with the proper themes of the pulpit, it is due to our mental and spiritual sterility. Others, perhaps, are led to give undue scope to the subject of their preaching, because of the great empha¬ sis which has been laid of late on the fact that religion includes the secular as well as the sacred, the temporal as well as the spiritual. Time was when an impalpable »ulf separated the saintly from the secular life, when men abandoned ther worldly pursuits and withdrew themselves to the desert or the cloister; and this false idea in less obtrusive forms, has not yet altogether lost its influence in the church. It is no wonder, therefore, that it has become a common place of the pulpit, that we may be as religious in our daily occupations as in our Sunday worship—as religious in the counting-house as in the church-meeting, provided that whatsoever we do, we do it to the glory of God. This beyond all doubt is an important truth ; but it does not follow from this, that we are at liberty to preach about any thing and everything without distinction and without preference. The Pulpit has a special function, and the Minister has a special work. He is not a Jack of all trades. Some give themselves undue latitude in the pulpit because they have lost faith in the great doctrines of Christianity, When the minister is robbed of his proper themes, he is bound to find other themes of dis¬ course to justify the continuance of his office. According to the eloquent Vinet, " Dr. Amnion tells us—Schlez has attempted in his Sermons on rural economy, to speak of fallow grounds; another has preached on the silk worm ; others on the duties of Christians on the approach of contagious diseases among cattle. Luther said,—' It would not be long before they preached on blue ducks.' " But this took place a very long time ago, and I wish I could say that ministers of this kind were all dead and gone; unfortunately there are many in our day who follow in their steps. A friend of mine heard a distinguished London Minister, not long ago, preach on the importance of having a supply of pure water for the Metropolis. I am glad to say that he was not a minister of any of the evangelical denomi¬ nations. Not many weeks ago, I read of a Minister who turned up in his pulpit in non-clerical costume—(I could for¬ give him that) and read as his lesson Russell Lowell's poem, called "The Heritage," preached a sermon half based on an article in the current Macmillan, and partly on the novel of the day, Bjorson's " Heritage of the Kurtz" ; and followed the service, not by a prayer meet¬ ing, but by a reception, at which light refreshments were served, and to which the minister invited strangers to turn in for an hour's social chat. The preacher was a young Welshman, the place an Independent Chapel, and the day Sunday. I pity the hungry sheep who look up but are not fed,—and I pity the poor young man, who is of brilliant abilities, but scorns to go in the ruts and therefore has gone off the rail. My God have mercy on his soul! What we have to consider on this occasion is—what are the ruling ideas in the Christian Ministry ? The reply is the salvation of the soul as the end, and the gospel as the means of attaining that end. Christ tells us that the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. This evidently means the loss of the soul in the highest sense ; for on another occasion he asks the momentous question—" What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? " This is evidently the view that St. Paul takes of the Mission of Christ, for he tells the Thessalonians that they had "turned from idols to serve the living God, and to wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come.'''' Describing the commission which he received from Christ, he says that He made him a Minister of the Gentiles " to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may re¬ ceive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.'' Hence it should be the great aim of the Christian Minister to labour diligently and prayerfully for the conversion of Souls; " for he who converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins." Nor is this all, he must lead on the converts in the way of righteousness, and induce them to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things, and make them meet for the inheritance of the Saints in light. Besides, he must seek not only the conversion and sanctification of individual sinners, but also the progress and purity of the Church, which is the appointed agent of the world's salvation,—" that it may be a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle