A Preacher of the Old School
There is one Preacher left of the Old School, and he speaks today as loudly and as clearly as ever. He is not a popular preacher, though the world is his parish, and he travels over every part of the globe, and speaks in every language under the sun.
He visits the poor; he calls upon the rich; you may meet him in the inner cities, or find him moving in the very highest circles of society. He preaches to people of every religion and of no religion, and whatever text he may have, the substance of his sermon is always the same.
He is an eloquent preacher; he often stirs feelings which no other preacher could reach, and brings tears into eyes that are little used to weep. He addresses himself to the intellect, the conscience and the hearts of his hearers. His arguments none have been able to refute; there is no conscience on earth that has not at some time quailed in his presence; nor is there any heart that has remained wholly unmoved by the force of his weighty appeals. Most people hate him, but in one way or another he makes everybody hear him.
He is neither refined nor polite. Indeed, he often interrupts the public arrangements and breaks in rudely upon the private enjoyments of life. He lurks about the shadows of the theatre and night–club; his shadow falls sometimes on the card–table; he is often in the neighbourhood of the public–house; he frequents the shop, the office, and the factory; he has a master–key that gives him access to the most secluded chamber; he appears in the midst of legislators and of fashionable religious assemblies; neither the villa, the mansion, nor the palace daunt him by their greatness; and no court or street is mean enough to escape his notice. His name is DEATH.
If you get rid of God’s word and of God’s servants, what will you do with the old Preacher of whom I have spoken? Have you some plan to superannuate him—to put him on the retired list? Will you compel him by force to suspend his itinerations? Or do you hope that a few more years of scientific culture and modern thought will have such an effect upon him that his doctrines and practice will be quite changed? It is true that most preachers are more or less affected by the spirit and opinions of the age they live in, but this old Preacher has gone on in perfect indifference to the changing events and opinions of the whole world for nearly six thousand years. All histories—both sacred and profane—give the same account of him, and all experience confirms it, so that it is against reason to expect that he will change in his old age.
Dying men and women, consider the prospect that is before you. Your little day will soon be passed. Your pleasures will have an end. Your occupations will be laid aside. Your wealth and honours will be worthless to you in the solemn hour when your body is reduced to a few handfuls of dust. After all, you ‘must needs die’....
Love’s pleading voice echoes every solemn warning of the old Preacher, but adds in compassionate tenderness the gracious enquiry, “Why will ye die?” It is true that you can never regain the paradise of Eden, or reach that tree whose fruit would give perpetuity to your present life on earth. All that is connected with the first creation—now ruined by sin—must pass away. But the love of God has revealed a fairer and brighter scene than Eden; a more glorious paradise than that of man’s innocence has been opened up by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The joys of heaven, the endless festivities of the Father’s house, the love of the Father’s heart, and eternal glory in companionship with the Son of God, may all be yours....