There is something in the eloquence of the pulpit, when it is really eloquence, which is entitled to the highest praise and honour. The preacher who can touch and affect such an heterogeneous mass of hearers, on subjects limited, and long worn thread-bare in all common hands; who can say any thing new or striking, any thing that rouses the attention, without offending the taste, or wearing out the feelings of his hearers, is a man whom one could not (in his public capacity) honour enough.
He liked to make his hearers jump, now and then, and he said that our gravel pit was much the same sort of place as Gehenna. My elders thought this far-fetched, but I saw no reason why hell should not have, so to speak, visible branch establishments throughout the earth, and I have visited quite a few of them since.
Talk often, but never long; in that case, if you do not please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay your own reckoning, but do not treat the whole company; this being one of the few cases in which people do not care to be treated, every one being fully convinced that he has wherewithal to pay.
I could have wished that the reputations of many brave men were not to be imperilled in the mouth of a single individual, to stand or fall according as he spoke well or ill. For it is hard to speak properly upon a subject where it is even difficult to convince your hearers that you are speaking the truth.
Jesus no doubt fits his teaching into the late-Jewish messianic dogma. But he does not think dogmatically. He formulates no doctrine. He is far from judging any man's belief by reference to any standard of dogmatic correctness. Nowhere does he demand of his hearers that they shall sacrifice thinking to believing.
He that can toy with his ministry and count it to be like a trade, or like any other profession, was never called of God. But he that has a charge pressing on his heart, and a woe ringing in his ear, and preaches as though he heard the cried of hell behind him, and saw his God looking down on him-oh, how that man entreats the Lord that his hearers may not hear in vain!
Persuasion is effected through the medium of the hearers, when they shall have been brought to a state of excitement under the influence of speech; for we do not, when influenced by pain or joy, or partiality or dislike, award our decisions in the same way; about which means of persuasion alone, I declare that the system-mongers of the present day busy themselves.
No one will be offended if we tell them that they are good people who could be a little better. The offense comes when we tell them that they - and we - are ungodly people who cannot impress God or escape his tribunal. Until our preaching of the law has exposed our hearts and God's holiness at that profound level, our hearers will never flee to Christ alone for safety even if they come to us for advice.
The most intelligent hearers are those who enjoy most heartily the simplest preaching. It is not they who clamor for superlatively intellectual or aesthetic sermons. Daniel Webster used to complain of some of the preaching to which he listened. "In the house of God" he wanted to meditate "upon the simple varieties, and the undoubted facts of religion;" not upon mysteries and abstractions.
Among the numerous pleasures of Vienna the hotel evenings are famous. During supper Strauss or Lanner play waltzes...After every waltz they get huge applause; and if they play a Quodlibet, or jumble of opera, song and dance, the hearers are so overjoyed that they don't know what to do with themselves. It shows the corrupt taste of the Viennese public.
If our eloquence be directed above the heads of our hearers, we shall do no execution. By pointing our arguments low, we stand a chance of hitting their hearts as well as their heads. In addressing angels, we could hardly raise our eloquence too high; but we must remember that men are not angels.
Charles Caleb Colton
If you expound the teaching of the Logos from the standpoint of the moral life, using materialistic words and examples which correspond to the capacity of your hearers, you make the Logos flesh. Conversely, if you elucidate mystical theology by means of the higher forms of contemplation you make the Logos spirit.
Maximus the Confessor
The effect of speech upon the condition of the soul is comparable to the power of drugs over the nature of bodies. For just as different drugs dispel different secretions from the body, and some bring an end to disease and others to life, so also in the case of speeches, some distress, others delight, some cause fear, others make the hearers bold, and some drug and bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion.
Unless the Holy Ghost blesses the Word, we who preach the gospel are of all men most miserable, for we have attempted a task that is impossible. We have entered on a sphere where nothing but the supernatural will ever avail. If the Holy Spirit does not renew the hearts of our hearers, we cannot do it. If the Holy Ghost does not regenerate them, we cannot. If He does not send the truth home into their souls, we might as well speak into the ear of a corpse.
Steven J Lawson
You do not esteem good deeds?" She shifted the basket handle to both hands, just as a cool breeze blew a bonnet string across her face. "My dear Miss Keene, what would the world be without them?" He brushed the string from her cheek. "Are we not admonished to be doers and not merely hearers of His word? Yet not on a mountain of good deeds can we climb our way to heaven.
Who, born for the universe, narrow'd his mind, And to party gave up what was meant for mankind; Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat To persuade Tommy Townshend to lend him a vote. Who too deep for his hearers still went on refining, And thought of convincing while they thought of dining: Though equal to all things, for all things unfit; Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit.
Since it is likely that, being men, they would sin every day, St. Paul consoles his hearers by saying 'renew yourselves' from day to day. This is what we do with houses: we keep constantly repairing them as they wear old. You should do the same thing to yourself. Have you sinned today? Have you made your soul old? Do not despair, do not despond, but renew your soul by repentance, and tears, and Confession, and by doing good things. And never cease doing this.
Saint John Chrysostom
Christ said "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" and when asked "who is thy neighbour? went on to the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you wish to understand this parable as it was understood by his hearers, you should substitute "Germans and Japanese" for Samaritan. I fear my modern day Christians would resent such a substitution, because it would compel them to realize how far they have departed from the teachings of the founder of their religion.
Eloquence, when at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection; but addressing itself entirely to the fancy or the affections, captivates the willing hearers, and subdues their understanding. Happily, this pitch it seldom attains. But what a Tully or a Demosthenes could scarcely effect over a Roman or Athenian audience, every Capuchin, every itinerant or stationary teacher can perform over the generality of mankind, and in a higher degree, by touching such gross and vulgar passions.
One not only wants to be understood when one writes, but also quite as certainly not to be understood. It is by no means an objection to a book when someone finds it unintelligible: perhaps this might just have been the intention of its author, perhaps he did not want to be understood by "anyone'. A distinguished intellect and taste, when it wants to communicate its thoughts, always selects its hearers; by selecting them, it at the same time closes its barriers against "the others". It is there that all the more refined laws of style have their origin: they at the same time keep off, they create distance, they prevent "access" (intelligibility, as we have said, ) while they open the ears of those who are acoustically related to them.
The essence of that by which Jesus overcame the world was not suffering, but obedience. Yes, men may puzzle themselves and their hearers over the question where the power of the life of Jesus and the death of Jesus lay; but the soul of the Christian always knows that it lay in the obedience of Christ. He was determined at every sacrifice to do His Father's will. Let us remember that; and the power of Christ's sacrifice may enter into us, and some little share of the redemption of the world may come through us, as the great work came through Him.
[Responding to the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce's question whether he traced his descent from an ape on his mother's or his father's side] A man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man-a man of restless and versatile intellect-who ... plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Besides this I place another equally obvious confirmation of my view that opera is based on the same principles as our Alexandrian culture. Opera is the birth of the theoretical man, the critical layman, not of the artist: one of the most surprising facts in the history of all the arts. It was the demand of throughly unmusical hearers that before everything else the words must be understood, so that according to them a rebirth of music is to be expected only when some mode of singing has been discovered in which textword lords it over counterpoint like master over servant: For the words, it is argued, are as much nobler than the accompanying harmonic system as the soul is nobler than the body.
The Next Chapter in the Book of Hope: "Gaining New Hope Hearing Aids" As I was with the Lord in the "Classroom of Useful Information," the Lord began to share from the second chapter of the "Book of Hope." This chapter taught about the right, hopeful "Hearing Aids" that would enable His Hope Craftsmen to hear His voice and become a company of hopeful Kingdom hearers.
In later life I have been sometimes praised, sometimes mocked, for my way of pointing out the mythical elements that seem to me to underlie our apparently ordinary lives. Certainly that cast of mind had some of its origin in our pit, which had much the character of a Protestant Hell. I was probably the most entranced listener to a sermon the Reverend Andrew Bowyer preached about Gehenna, the hateful valley outside the walls of Jerusalem, where outcasts lived, and where their flickering fires, seen from the city walls, may have given rise to the idea of a hell of perpetual burning. He liked to make his hearers jump, now and then, and he said that our gravel pit was much the same sort of place as Gehenna. My elders thought this far-fetched, but I saw no reason then why hell should not have, so to speak, visible branch establishments throughout the earth, and I have visited quite a few of them since.
When I got home, I seemed in a dream. My windows looked upon hers; I remained all the day looking at them, and all the day they were closed and dark. I forgot everything for this woman; I slept not, I eat nothing. That evening I fell into a fever, the next morning I was delirious, and the next evening I was DEAD!' 'Dead!' cried his hearers. 'Dead!' answered the narrator, with a conviction in his voice which words alone cannot give; 'dead as Fabian, the cast of whose dead face hangs from that wall!' 'Go on, ' whispered the others, holding their breath. The hail still rattled against the windows, and the fire had so nearly died out, that they threw more wood on the feeble flame which penetrated the darkness of the studio and cast a faint light upon the pale face of him who told the story. ("The Dead Man's Story
James Hain Friswell
Though the Son of Man expressed His federation with humanity, He was very careful to note that He was like man in all things save sin. He challenged His hearers to convict Him of sin. But the consequences of sin were all His as the Son of Man. Hence the prayer to let the chalice pass; His endurance of hunger and thirst; His agony and bloody sweat; perhaps even His seeming older than He actually was; His condescension to wash the feet of His disciples; His absence of resentment as the swine-owning capitalists ordered Him from their shores; His endurance of false charges of being a winebibber, a glutton; His gentleness, which expressed itself in hiding when His enemies would have stoned Him; above all, His endurance of worry, anxiety, fear, pain, mental anguish, fever, hunger, thirst, and agony during the hours of His Passion-all these things were to inspire men to imitate the Son of Man. Nothing that was human was foreign to Him.
Fulton J. Sheen
At present, a good many men engaged in scientific pursuits, and who have signally failed in gaining recognition among their fellows, are endeavoring to make reputations among the churches by delivering weak and vapid lectures upon the 'harmony of Genesis and Geology.' Like all hypocrites, these men overstate the case to such a degree, and so turn and pervert facts and words that they succeed only in gaining the applause of other hypocrites like themselves. Among the great scientists they are regarded as generals regard sutlers who trade with both armies. Surely the time must come when the wealth of the world will not be wasted in the propagation of ignorant creeds and miraculous mistakes. The time must come when churches and cathedrals will be dedicated to the use of man; when minister and priest will deem the discoveries of the living of more importance than the errors of the dead; when the truths of Nature will outrank the 'sacred' falsehoods of the past, and when a single fact will outweigh all the miracles of Holy Writ. Who can over estimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted in superstition could be used to enlighten, elevate and civilize mankind? When every church becomes a school, every cathedral a university, every clergyman a teacher, and all their hearers brave and honest thinkers, then, and not until then, will the dream of poet, patriot, philanthropist and philosopher, become a real and blessed truth.
Robert G. Ingersoll
My friends, I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to give people a batch of philosophy every Sunday morning and evening, and neglect the truths of this Holy Book. I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to leave out the main cardinal doctrines of the Word of God, and preach a religion which is all a mist and a haze, without any definite truths whatever. I take it that man does not preach Christ and him crucified, who can get through a sermon without mentioning Christ's name once; nor does that man preach Christ and him crucified, who leaves out the Holy Spirit's work, who never says a word about the Holy Ghost, so that indeed the hearers might say, "We do not so much as know whether there be a Holy Ghost." And I have my own private opinion, that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what now-a-days is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism. Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith without works; not unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor, I think, can we preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation, after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that. We preach Christ and him crucified in a different fashion, and to all gainsayers we reply, "We have not so learned Christ.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Hold childhood in reverence, and do not be in any hurry to judge it for good or ill. Leave exceptional cases to show themselves, let their qualities be tested and confirmed, before special methods are adopted. Give nature time to work before you take over her business, lest you interfere with her dealings. You assert that you know the value of time and are afraid to waste it. You fail to perceive that it is a greater waste of time to use it ill than to do nothing, and that a child ill taught is further from virtue than a child who has learnt nothing at all. You are afraid to see him spending his early years doing nothing. What! is it nothing to be happy, nothing to run and jump all day? He will never be so busy again all his life long. Plato, in his Republic, which is considered so stern, teaches the children only through festivals, games, songs, and amusements. It seems as if he had accomplished his purpose when he had taught them to be happy; and Seneca, speaking of the Roman lads in olden days, says, "They were always on their feet, they were never taught anything which kept them sitting." Were they any the worse for it in manhood? Do not be afraid, therefore, of this so-called idleness. What would you think of a man who refused to sleep lest he should waste part of his life? You would say, "He is mad; he is not enjoying his life, he is robbing himself of part of it; to avoid sleep he is hastening his death." Remember that these two cases are alike, and that childhood is the sleep of reason. The apparent ease with which children learn is their ruin. You fail to see that this very facility proves that they are not learning. Their shining, polished brain reflects, as in a mirror, the things you show them, but nothing sinks in. The child remembers the words and the ideas are reflected back; his hearers understand them, but to him they are meaningless. Although memory and reason are wholly different faculties, the one does not really develop apart from the other. Before the age of reason the child receives images, not ideas; and there is this difference between them: images are merely the pictures of external objects, while ideas are notions about those objects determined by their relations.