The Power of Preaching

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power of preachingIn a seaport town on the west coast of England, some years ago, notice was given of a sermon to be preached one Sunday evening, on the proper observance of the Sabbath. The minister, who was to preach on this occasion, was very eloquent, and a large congregation met to hear him. After the usual service was over, and the hymn sung, the minister gave out his text, and was about to begin his sermon, when he suddenly paused, leaned his head on his hand, and rested his elbow on the pulpit, and remained silent for a few moments. Some of his friends were afraid that he was feeling unwell. But he soon straightened himself up, and looking round on the congregation, he said: “My friends, before beginning my sermon, I ask your kind indulgence while I relate to you a short story.”

“It is now fifteen years since I was last within this place of family worship. The minister who preached on that occasion, was the beloved and venerable man who was then the pastor of this church. The subject of the discourse that night, was the same that has brought us together this evening, the proper observance of the Sabbath. Among those who came to the church, that evening, were three young men. They were wild, ungodly, drinking men, who were already far gone in the way of transgressors, and who came that night, not only for the purpose of insulting and mocking the venerable pastor, but with stones in their pockets, to throw at him, as he stood in this pulpit.”

“The minister had not gone on very far with his sermon, when one of the young men said to his companions, ‘What’s the use of listening to the old fool any longer? Let’s throw now.’ But the second one stopped him, saying, ‘Let’s see first, what he is going to make out of the point of the sermon which he has just begun.’ But the young man’s curiosity was soon satisfied, and he said: ‘O, confound him! it’s all nonsense, just as I expected. Let’s throw now!’ But the third one of their company then said: ‘Boys, I think we had better give up altogether, the bad intention which brought us here.’ On hearing this, his companions were greatly offended, and immediately left the church, while he remained until the close of the service. Those two young men went on in the way of transgressors, while their companion made up his mind to stop, and not walk in that way any longer.”

“And now, my friends,” continued the minister, with great feeling. “let me tell you about the after history of those three young men. Of the two who left the church that night, one was hanged several years ago at Tyburn, for the crime of forgery; the other was lately hung for murder. They died with the burden of their sins still upon them, and thus they lost their souls. The third”, and here the speaker’s voice failed. He was greatly agitated, and paused to wipe away the big tear drops from his face, “the third, is he who is now about to address you, listen to him.”

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