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these abstract formulas, which destroy the kernel and leave me nothing but the shell; which press out the life-blood and leave me nothing but the stock ?” Again : “They are the chill of Christian life. They stand between us and our God like a thick cloud. Sweep it hence! Let us see Jesus as Paul and John saw Him, with the eye of love and not of intellect.” Judging alone from these sentences, we would say that he is inconsistent with himself. In one breath he professes to admire theology, and to be himself a theologian; in the next, he denounces it in severest terms. How is it possible to reconcile the two statements? Or which of them are we to take as conveying his real conviction and belief on the subject? The true explanation is to be found in the fact, that while he approves of theology at divinity halls and in the study, he regards it as the source of incalculable evil when introduced into the pulpit. Theological systems are good enough in their place, but that place is not the pulpit. He has no faith in scientific preaching. Our systematic theologies, our “bodies of divinity,"

" Christian dogmatics," a rule, travel in straight line through a long catalogue of all-important subjects, such as Theology proper, Anthropology, Soteriology, and Eschatology; and they never deviate a hairsbreadth from the path until they reach the end. Years ago it was the custom of ministers to preach in that same order. The great John Howe, in many respects the greatest of all Puritan divines, delivered that learned and masterly treatise, entitled, “The Principles of the Oracles of God,” in a series of sixty-five sermons. The eminent Dr. Dwight, of Yale College, edified his congregation by preaching to them on one hundred and seventy-three successive Sabbath mornings that admirable body of divinity which we now have in five large volumes. Doctrinal preaching was the order of the day. A truth was taken up and considered, not so much in its bearings on practical human life, as in its relations to other truths in a system. Congregations were told in what respects “regeneration” differed from "justification, adoption, sanctification,” and also what went before and what came after it. Whatever the doctrine under consideration, its various relations in a system would generally occupy


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whole of the preacher's time. Instead of feeding the people with that food which their circumstances demanded, the pulpit invariably supplied them with that which came in the stereotyped order of scientific theology. Under such lifeless preaching the churches were withering away, or sinking into the lowest depths of spiritual indifference and indolence. Once in a while a young minister would exhaust his theologic lore at a very early date. Dr. John Dick, now of world-wide renown as the author of very interesting “Lectures on Theology," is said to have gone, in the early days of his ministry, to a brother minister in the deepest distress, saying to him, “What shall I do? I have preached all I know to the people, and have nothing else to give them. I have gone through the Catechism, and what have I more?” His friend was wiser, and replied, “The Catechism! Take the Bible, man. It will take you a long time to exhaust that.”

When Mr. Beecher came to Brooklyn thirty years ago, the majority of the churches were empty. The ministers were all able men, learned, classical scholars, and profound divines; but their preaching did not attract the crowds. Their sermons were elaborate essays on Christian doctrines, bristling with technical terms and classical quotations, but destitute of all directness of application and definiteness of purpose, and falling upon the ears of the people like so much unmeaning sound. Mr. Beecher, his heart burning with holy enthusiasm, grieved in his spirit, registered a solemn vow that he would fight that style of sermonising and of preaching with the whole energy and fire of his nature. He entered upon the contest by endeavouring to preach a living, practical gospel himself. Instead of taking up a certain doctrine with the view of ascertaining its exact position in a given system of truth, he would consider it in its multitudinous bearings upon the life and conversation of his hearers. Instead of entertaining his people with learned disquisitions on some abstruse and perplexing questions, he sought to do them good by disturbing their spiritual peace, by making them heartily dissatisfied with themselves and their prospects, by calling into action their moral sense, and by compelling them to stand face to face with the grand ideal of the Christian life. Instead of humouring their

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lethargy and their worldliness with long-drawn, finely-finished essays on the Trinity, Predestination, the Fall, and the origin of Evil, he tried to touch their consciences and move their hearts by reminding them that life was given them that they might use it for others, and that unless they did so use it God would not hold them guiltless in the day of judgment. He made no attempt to preach theology. For a time he ignored it altogether. Then he began to decry it, calling it all manner of names, ridiculing it before vast audiences; styling it a mere skeleton, with neither skin nor flesh nor sinews apon it. His chief argument against it was that it was effete, no longer capable of producing any good in the world. The whole country was now astir. A few large-hearted, unselfish, and earnest Christian people hailed the new preacher as “the Paul of the nineteenth century;" but the staid, narrow-minded, bigoted, orthodox divines denounced him as

“ rearing up a generation of scoffers.” In his opinion the prominent error of the Church of that day was excessive reverence for creeds, confessions, and systems; but according to the general conviction of the majority of preachers, to utter a single word against the venerable articles of faith was infinitely blasphemous. It then became a question as to what kind of preaching the times did really require. The discussion was carried on for some time with great zeal and eminent ability on both sides. Long and eloquent articles appeared in all religious magazines, and even the secular press was not indifferent in the matter. In order to give our readers some idea of the matter and manner of the controversy, we will reproduce here an article written by Mr. Beecher, entitled, “Preaching to the Times”:

“The pulpit seeks the education of man's moral nature by the power of divine truth. The pulpit begins where all other lectureships end. It aims at the conversion of the soul from worldliness and selfishness to a spiritual and truly godly state. This result is to be sought chiefly by the power of the thoughts and the facts which God has revealed concerning Himself, and then by the power of the truths in like manner revealed concerning man's nature and character, his immortality and destiny. There is an intrinsic fitness in these highest possible truths of the Divine Being

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