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Love the Central Element of the Christian Ministry

This is the conclusion of the notes/quotes from Henry Ward Beecher’s 1872 Lyman Beecher lecture on “Love the Central Element of the Christian Ministry.”

p. 244-245

And so a man who is truly intellectual, without any special sympathy or love, cannot deal rightly in moral truth. He may in physical truth, because that is not at all a question of influence; but all moral truth—and with that you have mainly to deal—is truth that springs out of experience. Unless you have love, you cannot go right by pure intellect; while the intellect working in an atmosphere of love can rarely go wrong in moral things.

pp.248-249

LOVE, A POWER GIVING ELEMENT

But there are other things. No one can deal with the hearts of men as he ought, unless he has the sympathy which is given by love. I have always been struck with the Apostle’s notion as to quality and quantity of feeling. If he charges you to be hopeful, it is to be very hopeful. It is not enough for you to be right, You must be very largely right; each particular good must be carried up to its ideal form. Thus, we are, not only to be fruitful but we must abound in fruitfulness, as a vine, bearing so much clusters have to be cut away to make room for those for those that remain. We do not know what Christian qualities are until we see them in their larger forms. Suppose we knew nothing about apples except as we had seen them grown in Siberia, what could we say about pound pippins? Suppose you only see those poor, mean, and barren qualities that often are called Christian experiences, what would you know about the depths, the beauty, the freshness, and the power that are in a true man, who is built after the model of Jesus Christ, who is conscious of his strength, who is free, who is profuse, generous and abundant? God is in him; and men see God more nearly than they can by their own meditation, when they see a man like that. You may have benevolence as a pale stream of moonbeams shining into your study window, and you may sit and write your thin sermons in the light of that pale, speculative benevolence, but it will not do.


p. 253

Now, your congregation will be full of sluggish people. Somebody must bear with those dull and stupid ones. You will find, what is a great deal worse, people who know everything, and yet know nothing. You cannot teach them anything. They are conceited snips of men, who are rushing up to you, and taking on airs in your presence, and you feel like smacking them, as you would a black fly or a mosquito. But somebody has to bear with them. If Christ died for the world, he died for a great many ordinary folks; and if we are Christ’s we must do the same thing.


p. 257

You have sold yourself to any man fear of whom makes you silent.

A congregation knows when a minister is afraid of them just as well as a horse knows that his driver is afraid of him.

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