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THREE PREACHERS AM) THREE…

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THREE PREACHERS AM) THREE SERMOXS. ■BY S. D. C'.] This week I have had the pleasure of listening' to three sermons. all of which were excellent in themselves and which to me were rendered st;ll more impressive by the commanding' personality of each of the preachers. On Sunday night I heard Owen Edwards at Frederick-stree; Chapel. Cardiff, and on Monday night I heard Dr. John Thomas and Dr. Herber Evans at the English Independent Chapel. Bridgend. I had never heard one of them preach before, but I could imagine from the appearance of each what the style of his preaching would be even "before they ascended the pulpit. Owen Edwards is still young—barely thirty years of age. The first thing that strikes the observer is the air of peace- ful calm that surrounds him. One looks in vain into his face for evidences of turbulent passion or of impulsive thought. One need but look at this broad-browed, dark-eyed, clean-shaven man to see that his has not been a life of incident or adven- ture. His dreamy look, as well as his slightly stooping shoulders, betoken a life spent in study. He knows the world—from a distance he can analyse human character—but more from intuitive divination than from rourrh contact with the wodd; his knowledge is that of the philosopher and the student, not of the man of the world. The sermon was like the man calm. hop:ful. full of graceful imagery and pure longings after a great ideal. Not a sermon that appealed to the masses no striving- after effect no attempt to popularise—and perhaps vulgarise—the truth. It was simply a closely-argued, dispassionate lecture on the benefits that every nation would enjoy by retaining among its people the sanctuary of God. H? showed how the three great nations of antiquity strove after three different ideals. The Roman worshipped the Law. the Athenian worshipped Art. the Israelite worshipped the living God. We have entered into the fruits of the labour 01 the three. The Roman gave us the idea of union, the Greek taught us to see the beautiful, the Israelite revealed to us God. The preacher then contrasted the living God with the gods of antiquity. Every man must worship a deity: if not God, then he will make a god of his own lust or passion or sin. Such were the gods of the- old heathen nations of the world. They embodied all that was vicious and degrading and sinful in their worshippers. Every poet. of average genius and average honesty, criticised the gods of his country and good men recognised that they were better than the gods they worshipped. From this state, the Israelites saved the world. They re- vealed a God who would not be propitiated by a share in their sins and vices a God whom they could love and reverence, but not criticise a G-od who was the essence of all that n¡1,S good. purity itself, sympathy itself. love itself. He revealed himself to an oppressed race therefore he was the God of sympathy. He revealed himself to them m the desert, and every great religion emanated from the desert, both that of Jehovah and Mahomet, the true and the false. It was in the desert that man first beheld his own littleness and the greatness of God. Even from a worldly point of view, it was best for a nation to keep the sanctuary of the Lord in their midst for evermore for no immoral or sinful nation could last. and religion kept a high ideal before the people. The religious instinct of a nation did. indeed, abide with it for evermore. It might assumd different forms, perhaps even unworthy forms but it still continued to be the same. Once upon a time he (the preacher) saw a well springing up. over which a heathen temple once stood. The temple was destroyed, and a Christian monastery took its place. The monastery also was now in ruins, but the water bubbled up as clear and musical as ever from the well. There was hardly a change in the tone of the preacher s voice from beginning to end even in his voice there was the same uniform unruffled calm, which is characteris- tic of the man. Professor Barbier once said that he only knew two leaders of men in Wales—Prin- cipal Roberts and Owen Edwards. If that is so. the two quietest men in Wales are its leaders. A different man is Dr. Herber Evans. His is not the quiet, self-contained, reflective face of the scholar and the student. His energy is un. bounded: his every movement and everv look show the man of action. Massive of 'frame. of voioe. with a constitution strong Enough to enable him to preach at eight great anniversaries in three weeks, besides doincr his ordinary Sunday work (as he has done this month) Dr. Herber Evans seemed to have been destined by nature to be a great preacher in sermon-loving W ales. ^Sot that he is a mean scholar. Anyone who has heard him preacji knows how widely he has read and how judiciously he usc-s the ideas of modern writers. But you see that he is pre- eminently a preacher and a man of action, not a student. You felt that even when vou heard him read his text. Where is the Lord God of Elijah It were useless for me to try and give but a verv faint idea of the sermon, as it was delivered 'The main idea-the line of thought. I think sermon- makers would call it,-was that the Lord God of Elijah was still the same. •• There was a signifi- cance," he said. in every name that God assumed. He was the God of Abraham—for he was the God of the faithful. He was the God of Isaac-for he was the God of the commonplace, as well as of the great. men. He was the God of Jacob—for he was a God who sanctified and uplifted all who had communion with Him. He told Moses to say that he was I am -leaving a blank which meant that He was everything that the nation required. So he was the God of Elijah, because Elijah expected great things of Him. and he was not disappointed Wales was in danger of forgetting the God of Elijah in these days. They trusted too much in the power of culture, and education, and intellect these were great gifts, but if they wished to see manifestations of His power again, they must learn to expect them. He was convinced that it was through the power and faith in the efficacy of prayer that Mr. Spurgeon was still alive. Wales, it it was to be visited again by the old fire. would have to ask for it with prayer and faith." As I said, it is impossible in a short notice to convey any idea of the force, the humour, the pathos of the sermon. There were touches of oratory in it that can never be reproduced: there were little pathetic sentences, in it. which could be felt but not described, much less written. The man was greater than his sermon. Then came Dr. John Thomas. A different man, still, is he coming after the truly form of Herber Evans, he seemed to be quite a pigmy. Dr. Thomas is a good deal over seventy years of age. and one could hardly imagine from his appearance that he could preach three long sermons in a day. His eye. however, is still bright and keen as a hawk's. there is a vigour and an incisiveness in his words, which one generally expects only from a man in the prime of manhood. He looks an ascetic, and there is a stateliness- almost haughtiness — about his clear cut features that irresistibly reminds one of pictures of old ecclesiastics of the Middle Ages. When you see his face, as he sits immobile in a chair. you can understand how it is that some of the 6ft Mbe delight in calling him Doctor Pen-v-goeden •" but when he begins to speak, or when he tUrns to you with a smile, or with lurking humour tells a story, you then understand how it is that his per- sonality has fascinated those who best know him. Whatever may have been the case. there is but little now of the music and flexibility in his voice, which are the charm of Herber Evans. He read his text in a very low tone—so low that he could only be heard with difficulty, as he r-ad "To hearken is better than sacrifice, and to obey than the tat of rams." His treatment of the subject was old-tashioned in manner, but each thought was fresh, striking, original. His illustrations were all from the Bible, his authorities were the Scriptures. He did not unduly decry the use of ceretr onial. but he pointed out that the essential thing was an obedient heart. To obey God's com- mands was man's highest duty in this world, and obedience would be the great work of the saved in heaven. Even angels were" ministering- spirits." and heaven would consist, not of earthly praying or preaching, communing or singing, but of souls whose every thought and will moved in perfect unison with the will of God. Owen Edwards excels in grace and beauty of composition. Herber Evans in power and skill of delivery, John Thomas in severity and stateliness of style. Owen Edwards draws his illustrations from the history of the world. Herber Evans ex- plains the most abstruse points by every-day events, John Thomas finds his exegesis in the Bible. The sermon of Owen Edwards is somewhat marred by a monotonous delivery, the great strength of Herber Evans lies in his oratorical power, with John Thomas a good delivery aids, but does not take the place of. a good sermon. Owen Edwards charms by his beauty of style. Herber Evans by his tenderness of feeling, John Thomas by concentration of purpose.

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