I have noted frankly a few of the changes that I have observed in the methods of our American pulpit during my long life, but not, I trust, in a pessimistic or censorious spirit God forbid that I should disparage the noble, conscientious, self-denying and Heaven-blessed labors of thousands of Christ’s ministers in our broad land! They have greater difficulties to encounter than I had when I began my work. They are surrounded with an atmosphere of intense materialism. The ambition for the “seen things” increasingly blinds men to the “things that are unseen and eternal.” Wealth and worldliness unspiritualize thousands of professed Christians. The present artificial arrangements of society antagonize devotional meetings and special efforts to promote revivals. On Sabbath mornings many a minister has to shovel out scores of his congregation from under the drifts (not very clean snow either) of the mammoth Sunday newspapers.
The zealous pastor of to-day has to contend with the lowered popular faith in the authority of God’s Word; with the lowered reverence for God’s day and a diminished habit of attending upon God’s worship. Do these increased difficulties demand a new Gospel? No; but rather a mightier faith in the one we have. Do they demand new doctrines? No; but more power in preaching the truths that have outlived nineteen centuries. Do we need a new revelation of Jesus Christ? Yes, yes, in the fuller manifestation of Him; in the more loving, courageous and consecrated lives of His followers. Do we need a new Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Verily we do need it; and then our pulpits will be clothed with power, and our preachers will have tongues of fire, and every change will be a change for the better advancement and enlargement of the Kingdom of our adorable Lord.
MY EXPERIENCE IN REVIVALS.
I have always counted it a matter for thankfulness that I made my preparation for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. The period that I spent there, from September, 1843, to May, 1846, was a golden period in its history. The venerable Archibald Alexander, wonderfully endowed with sagacity and spiritual insight, instructed us in the duties of the preacher and the pastor. Dr. Charles Hodge, the king of Presbyterian theologians, was in the prime of his power. His teachings have since been embodied in his masterful volume on “Systematic Theology.” Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander, who, Dr. Hodge said, was, taking him all in all, “the most gifted man with whom I was ever personally acquainted,” was in the chair of Hebrew and Old Testament literature. Urbane, old Dr. Samuel Miller, was the Professor of Ecclesiastical History. Those wise men taught us not only to think, but to believe. All education is atmospheric, and the atmosphere of Princeton Seminary was deeply and sweetly Evangelical. At five o’clock on the morning after I received my diploma, I was off