« ZurückWeiter »
"THERE is no faculty we can exert, no species of skill we can apply, but requires a superintending hand, but looks up, as it were, to some higher principle, as a maid to her mistress for direction; and this universal superintendent is Wisdom."-ROBERT Hall.
“ YOUR sermon had one defect: it had no likes in it," was the shrewd criticism of one of the greatest preachers of his age; and there were in the remark a deep underlying philosophy and a wise knowledge of human nature. The masses of mankind must be impressed by illustrative teaching, if they are to be impressed at all. All who have had to do with children will not fail to have remarked how, in the midst of the most important lessons, the wavering attention has been recalled, and the listless eyes have brightened, under the spell of some apt and happy story. Men, in this matter, are but "children of a larger growth." There are but few in a multitude who can grasp, and fewer still who care to grasp, a protracted argument, though it may be woven into a logic bright and close as a suit of chain armour ; but the parable through which the truth shines, or the comparison which links it to something familiar, or the touching story which connects it with a heart-history, brings it home all the more readily, and causes it to linger all the longer in the memory.
George Herbert says, “ It is an ill mason that refuseth any stone; and there is no knowledge but, in a skilful hand, serves either positively as it is, or else to illustrate some other knowledge." In all ages they have been the greatest powers, both in the pulpit, in the class-room, and on the platform, who have kept this truth in mind. The Fathers of the early Church, who lived in days nearest to those of the Son of man—the Puritans, whose names are inspirations still—enriched their discourses with simile, metaphor, anecdote. These made all nature, all history, all the lives of men their treasury, out of which to bring the “new things which were to embellish and enforce the "old.”. And He — the Divine Teacher - the “perfection" of skill as “of beauty"-how His ministry lays the familiar universe under tribute! As He speaks, the seed is fruitful of other than its own harvests; warning lurks in the house that is built upon the sand," and consistency is urged from the “city that is set upon an hill;" the sun shines and the rains fall, not merely for light and fertility, but as
messengers of trust and charity; the coins of ordinary currency bear a nobler “image and superscription" than “ Cæsar's ;” and the quiet leaven and the delicate lily, the pearl in the depths and the sower on the plain, the salt in the rock and the candle in the house, the folded sheep and the falling sparrow, all become preachers of good tidings to weary and sorrowful souls.
These examples of successful teaching-examples human and Divine—should constrain imitation still. If the great object of the Christian minister is to be a winner of souls—if his mission be, not to preach esoteric doctrine to the initiated few, but to proclaim a revelation, which affects the dearest interests of every man, in such a manner that every man may be constrained to listen—then he will surely feel bound to avail himself of every element of power, that his work may be wrought without shame, and that he may harvest his gains for God.
It is to be hoped that this HANDBOOK OF ILLUSTRATION, a companion volume to the CYCLOPÆDIA OF ILLUSTRATIVE ANECDOTE, will afford valuable aid, as a book of suggestion and reference, to public speakers in every department of their profession. It will be well also if it be a stimulus to the young and unskilled to attain something like a mastery of the art of successful illustration. There is all the difference in the world between a fencer, adroit in the use of his sword, and a rustic, boisterous in the swinging of his flail. Nothing falls more flatly than a pointless anecdote, or a "like" that is not palpably like, or an illustration that sheds no lustre upon the matter it was intended to clear. If a man would use illustration as a power for good, he must cultivate a refinement of thought in his own mind. He must have a clear perception of the truth itself, and of the fitness and fulness of the analogy by which he means to illumi. nate it; and then he must learn to present it gracefully, that it may attract without startling, and be a “power of surprise" without awakening either repulsion or alarm. Above all, he must remember that the illustration is þut the handmaid in the palace, while Truth is the queen upon the throne. And he will take care that Truth be not hampered by too many handmaids, nor, like the Roman matron, hindered in her progress by the weight of her own jewels.
W. MORLEY PUNSHON. KENSINGTON,
THE NEW HANDBOOK OF ILLUSTRATION is intended as a companion volume to THE NEW CYCLOPÆDIA OF ILLUSTRATIVE ANECDOTE. In that work was embraced a collection of moral and religious anecdote suitable for general perusal, and especially furnishing aid to those engaged in pastoral labour or in youthful tuition, whether religious or secular. Applications and reflections were therein designedly omitted, in order to afford room for a more extensive selection of articles in the various divisions, and to admit of the whole being comprised within the limits of a single portable volume. The approval with which his labours were received induced the writer to undertake a heavier and more important task supplementary of his previous efforts-namely, the compilation of a body of illustration, definition, and exposition on the leading subjects which naturally group themselves under the respective heads “ Scripture Truth” and “ Christian Life;" and he hopes that the result, as now put forth, will prove a useful and acceptable adjunct to the book of anecdote already referred to. The illustrations, expositions, and meditations contained in the following pages are many of them original; others have been gathered from an extensive and, in numerous instances, entirely unworked field. The old divines, both of England and Scotland, have been laid under contribution; the modern masters of pulpit oratory and chiefs of our religious literature supply other choice passages; while eminent secular writers, past and present, have been made available where matter could be drawn from their pages likely to elucidate the great truths which form the main topics treated. Of the scope of the work the reader will best judge by an examination of its pages, or by reference to the index. Suffice it here to say that, beside the large portion which may be qualified as expository and interpretative, there will be found distributed throughout no inconsiderable array of similitudes, parables, emblems, allegories, symbols, types, and apologues, with many carefully-chosen anecdotes. Terse and pithy sentences, proverbs, apophthegms, axioms, and aphorisms, gathered from the best sources, have been selected to form an apt introduction to the longer and weightier articles in each division - in short, the utility of classification has been strictly observed, so that “order gives each thing view.” Thus, to render the whole of greater practical service to preacher, teacher, and private reader, not only has alphabetical arrangement been closely followed, but a copious index provided at the end of the volume. It is hoped that none will adopt the hasty conclusion that this is in any sense a theological handbook, though much that it contains may be liable to the misconstruction of those who find heresy in aught that does not strictly conform to some narrow standard of their own. Rather is it wished that these labours may be considered as showing in a brighter light and setting forth in more attractive guise the great leading verities of the Christian religion. Vexed questions, open to controversy and debate, have been excluded from these pages; the simple doctrines, the simple faith and practice of the Evangelical Church of Christ, form the basis upon which the present structure has been erected. To adopt the words of the wise king, the writer has sought "to find out acceptable words," having always in view that “ that which was written was upright, even words of truth,” and ever remembering that the “whole duty of man" is to “fear God and keep His commandments."