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knows anything of the practical operation of tract distribution, and the use of this argument betrays a lamentable ignorance on the subject.

We have in our hands the twenty-fifth Annual Report of the Society, and we will make some extracts from this as a sample of what may be found in all. On page ninety-one is mentioned the case of a wife, who became much enraged against a colporteur and declared that he should not enter the house again. Her husband expostulated with her, but she replied, “He shall not come into the house again;" but the Spirit of the Lord reached her heart, and when the colpofteur returned, they gave him a hearty welcome. On page ninety eight, a colporteur among the French, in one of the most forbidding portions of Louisiana, states that a Catholic priest denounced him and his books, and ordered the people not to read or touch them. Many came and received books. One woman who would not disobey the priest by touching the books, spread her apron over her hands and thus opened and read the books. The priest, thus baffled, stated that the books published in New York were of an incendiary character. This plan succeeded better. The colporteur left the place, and some of his friends thought it would not be safe for him to return, but he has been there twice since, and no harm was done him. One woman refused to receive a tract from him, and he tossed one into a tub near her. When he returned, the woman was glad to see him, and wanted more books. On page one hundred, a colporteur in Tennessee says, there were seven doggeries in the place, but before we left we procured a number of signatures to the temperance pledge. An old gentleman, who was furious in his opposition at our first visit, was now the first to welcome us. But we cannot go through the narratives of a similar character, even in this one report. Would it not be well for the Society to make similar selections from their own reports, for circulation among their own members? We hope not to be charged with impertinence or usurpation for making the suggestion. But it is too serious a matter for trifling. We are shocked that Christian men should argue that it is useless and wrong to proclaim the truth, because men will not listen

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to it. We have felt ashamed that it seemed necessary to quote, from the reports of the Society, facts to disprove such errors, when we remember who it was that said, “Go, and speak unto them and tell them, thus saith the Lord, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”

Must we argue longer to show that circulation does not mean universal circulation ? If Unitarians will not receive tracts on the Divinity of Christ, there are still many others who will gladly receive them ; if Universalists will not tolerate tracts on eternal punishment, there are others to whom they may be given; if Mormons will not bear the precepts of the Gospel in their relation to polygamy, the Society may still be justified in printing and circulating their tract on the seventh commandment; if even members of the Executive Committee should turn their backs on the tracts upon fashionable amusements, wine drinking and the use of tobacco, there are many ignorant and unenlightened persons to whom such tracts may be a blessing; and if the Southern slaveholders curse when tracts against slavery and the slave trade are proposed, there are gray-haired members of the Tract Society itself, even ministers of the Gospel, who need to be taught“ the first principles of the oracles of God” on this subject, for when the members of the Society assembled in May last, one such came also among them to defend the slave trade.

If anything could arouse the officers of the Society to appreciate the moral insensibility, which their withholding the truth has been a means of inducing, and to the discharge of their duty in the premises, it would seem as if the open advocacy of the slave trade, not in the distant South, but in their own presence, even by a minister of the Gospel, on the floor of the Society, would do so. And if the professors of such a religion pertinaciously refuse to receive the exhortations and admonitions of their Christian brethren, it will not be long before the opinion will prevail, that any such professions of Christianity are vain, and that objections from such a source are not worthy to be regarded.



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So preëminent is the Pulpit among the human agencies which God employs to advance his spiritual kingdom on earth, that an inquiry into the conditions of its power cannot be void of interest to a thoughtful Christian mind. Especially will those who are called to the ministry of the Word,” often turn to inspect the means by which, under God, they are to accomplish their high mission. This occasion invites to such a review, and suggests as a theme perhaps not altogether inappropriate, The relation of the forces of the pulpit to its power.

By the use of these terms, it is not meant to be implied that the pulpit has any power apart from its connection with the Holy Spirit. It is an organism of parts, designed and adapted to accomplish a specific purpose in the economy of grace, but only when the Divine efficiency streams through it, does it become an organism of powers, "mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.” Like the human system, it must be pervaded and vivified by the indwelling spirit, or it will be powerless. And yet, as the body is curiously wrought into a repository for the powers of the soul, through which it acts on the world without, so has the great Architect fashioned the pulpit into an organism whose parts are nicely adjusted to be avenues through which the Divine Spirit puts forth his power for the regeneration and sanctification of men. therefore, as properly speak of the forces of the pulpit as of the body, meaning those instrumentalities through which the Spirit exerts his power in the preaching of “the Word.” These forces, for the want of better terms, I shall style material, development, action, and the proposition designed to be illustrated is, that the pulpit becomes a power just to the degree in which it employs these forces.

We may,

* An Inaugural Discourse, delivered by FRANKLIN W. Fisk, Professor of Sacred Rhetoric, in Chicago Theological Seminary, April 28, 1859 ; and presented for publication by the Board of Directors of the Seminary.

Let us, then, first notice the relation of material to the power of the pulpit. This material is divine truth. It is properly termed a force, because it tends to produce an effect, and when the heart is opened by the Spirit of God, does produce it. Light is not more fitted to effect a change in the eye, and form

a an image on the retina, than is divine truth to produce a change in the soul, and impress upon it the image of God. Air is not better adapted to impart life to the body, than the inspired Word to give life to the soul. And just as man may close his eyes, and shut his mouth against the good gifts that come pouring into him, and thus die, so may he bar his soul against God's pnrer light, and walk into eternal darkness and death. Yet both the light and the truth are no less forses, because they may be resisted. When permitted to act, they will go on to fulfill their blessed mission, the one to fill the whole body with light, and to bathe it in an ocean of light, the other to pour into the soul a celestial light, and fill it " with all the fullness of God.”

But not only is divine truth a force in preaching, it is preëminently the force, because through it alone does the Holy Spirit convert and sanctify the soul. Other forces of the pulpit rise in importance only as they contribute to present the truth in its full force. They are at best only its aids, never its equals. Hence preaching, to be powerful, must be built up out of the truth. It must be born of the truth, if it would inherit its force. As it would never have come into being without the truth, so can it not live a forceful life, dissevered from it. It must touch the truth at every point, if it would be full

of power.

And yet, evident as this must be to the preacher, he will be, at times, tempted, if I mistake not, to dwarf his power by seeking his material outside the truth. One must be an indif- . ferent observer of the times, who does not see that our age is drifting away from its confidence in the Word of God as a force. This distrust crops out here and there along the surface of society. It is seen in the low estimate at which the Bible is rated among the forces of the day. We hear on every side of the “force of association," of the “force of public opinion," of the "force of civilization," of every force but that which lies beneath them all, and gives to them whatever efficiency for good they possess. The sacred Word has come to be regarded by not a few among us, as a force well nigh spent. It did well enough in its day. It served very well to restrain a rude people, and break them into law, to bring forth the nations from the mists of superstition; but now it must retire, and leave them to mightier forces which must henceforth conduct them on their high career of civilization. Such persons look upon the Bible with something of the reverent curiosity with which they view an ancient castle, whose gray walls and frowning towers, perforated with loop-holes for the discharge of arrows, are of little account in an age of powder and artillery.

And this sentiment . abroad in the community has, to some extent, and in a modified form, invaded even the Church. It may be seen in the growing demand for preaching upon secular themes, not so much that the truth may bring down its force upon them, as that the truth itself may gather force from the contact.

In such an atmosphere, it would not be strange if the preacher himself were to become infected, and losing by degrees a robust faith in the energy of the divine Word, should attempt to infuse into it energy, by linking it to earthly forces; or,—what is more probable,—if while retaining his confidence unshaken in the truth as a force, he should build largely into it secular material, in order to give it greater stature and influence among the people.

But in either case, whether it be from waning faith in the truth, or from a desire to exalt it before his hearers, if the preacher step outside of it for his material, he will soon find that he has stabbed to the heart his power as a minister of "the gospel of the

grace of God.” For the truth is the appointed channel through which the divine efficiency flows in preaching, and the preacher who opens other channels, will find no "living water” coursing through them for thirsting souls. He may build upon the gospel foundation bis “gold, silver, precious stones,” or “wood, hay, stubble," but his work will come to naught. His brilliant essays, his philosophical disquisitions,

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