Imágenes de páginas

diversify the mode of his preaching at times, for the sake of relief and freshness, both to himself and his hearers. Such versatility is not a common gift. Our advice will be lost upon many; but he that can receive it, let him receive it.

Exposition is distinct from the aforesaid kinds of preaching. It deals with the meaning and uses of some given portion of Scripture, paragraph, chapter, or book. Within the said portion there may be several topics of theology involved. The expositor is not at liberty to prosecute them, or discuss them elaborately, as if he were making a system of theology or working out a sermon. He must treat them only in the relation and proportion they bear to the entire section. If his inventive faculty is roused into action, as it is likely enough to be at some point of the exercise, by an idea that grows on his hands and ramifies in several directions, he must not indulge. It is a temptation to leave the highway on which his journey lies. He must resist temptation, and keep strictly to the course before him. For after-use, he may note in his memorybook that he passed such a suggestive point, and at his convenience return; but no halting or leaving the main-road. Collaterals must be treated with abruptness and brevity. Lanes and by-paths are to be shunned as hindrances to expeditious travelling.

The purpose of exposition is to clear up the passage under consideration, and enable the reader or hearer to apprehend its import. It may help us to a clearer idea if we investigate the terms generally employed to express this kind of preaching. We say the terms because there are several words used for it. Take exposition first: it is a word of significance. In its verbal form it means “to lay open, to make bare.” You expose anything that you set before the public eye, anything that you bring out to daylight, exhibit, hold forth, or make known ; you win attention to it by setting it to the door and turning it inside out. There is a felicitous expression often found in old authors, which, however, they have borrowed from the Scriptures. In commencing their discourses they begin with, “ We will open this Scripture in the following way.” This is what exposition does; it talks with Christian pilgrims on their journey, and kindles their hearts into a flame of genuine rapture, by opening to them the Scriptures. And when it opens the Scriptures it very generally discovers and displays Jesus, who is the chief theme and charm of all inspired truth. Skilfully handled and judiciously opened, the expositor is sure very often to meet with Christ. If his heart be in love with the fundamental doctrines of revelation he is sure to open upon Jesus in some of his many offices, and titles, and characters.

Opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead.”+ * Luke xxiv. 32.

of Acts xvii. 3.


Paraphrase approaches exposition. It draws a faint and shady line which exposition thickens and renders more definitive and full. The real meaning of the passage, as distinguishable from such import as invention, accommodation, or religious fancy may attach to it, is what exposition aims at. In the days of Nehemiah it was practised. Ezra, and a goodly company of clerks, occupied an elevated pulpit, or wooden tower, from which they addressed a large multitude on an important public occasion. It is said, “they caused the people to understand the law, and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." Neb. viii. 7, 8. This was what the great Teacher was always intent on, to set the Scripture in its true light. His sermon on the mount is a fine example. He opened up to his audience several points of ancient law, and struck out deeper significations than they suspected or imagined were there. Rescuing the law from the false glosses and trivial notions of the rabbies, he set it before them in words of such force and clearness as warmed the ears of all who heard him. Again, exposition is called expounding. To expound is, “to explain, to clear, to interpret." The verb occurs a few times in our translation, as the exponent of different words in the original. It occurs first in Judges xiv. 14: “ And they could not in three days expound the riddle;" that is, declare or make it manifest. It occurs in Mark iv. 34: “But without a parable spake he not unto them. And when they were alone he expounded (epeluen) all things to his disciples.” He loosened or solved all things, for the nominal form of the word means solution. It occurs in Luke xxiv. 27 : “ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded (diermeneusen) unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He interpreted or exercised in hermeneutics on the said things. It occurs in the Acts of the Apostles always as the exponent of the verb ektithemi, which means to expose or put forth. The reader can turn up the passages for himself, namely Acts xi, 4; xviii. 26; xxviii. 23. Exegesis is another term employed as synonomous with exposition. It comes out in a verbal form in John i. 18: “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him"-almost literally, he hath exegesed him. He has explained the Godhead in more ample style than had ever been done previously. Such are the significant words expressive of the kind of public discourse insisted on. If we wanted examples of expositors, we could furnish largely out of church history, and give names that were ornaments to their times, shewing that such a mode of preaching prevailed in the palmiest days of the church. What is more, we can claim apostles for our examples, Peter and Philip and Paul-yea, and Christ himself.

Pains should be taken to render an explanatory discourse interesting. It must not be a dry explication of words, as if the preacher was a living dictionary or lexicon, and only had to say that such a word means such a thing, and finish with bare definition. The expositor is bound to open the matter to his hearers in such a way that they shall open their minds to receive it. He must use some device to falsify the reproach cast upon philological teachers, that they are dry and flat. No public speaker may reasonably expect to keep attention even to the most golden truths, by exbibiting them in exact verbalisms and naked terms, without allurement, ornament, or bait of attraction. The ear is a delicate organ. Awkwardly touched, it shrinks and closes; whereas, if you win it by agreeable notes on themes of weight and value, it is a gate at which you may convey even heavy goods into the mind.


These are quite sufficient to compensate the pains and perseverance required on the part of the speaker to qualify himself for the task. Let us see what are its benefits.

It secures a proportionate exhibition of truth. All truth is good, and proper to be known. Truth is a circle. It cannot be good either for preacher or people to live on sections. Exposition takes us round the whole globe, and makes us familiar with every zone and climate. It shews us what grows under every sky. To know what there is in the globe of scripture theology, you must necessarily traverse it largely, and not confine yourself to small patches. Short texts and scraps taken from particular parts necessarily leave our hearers ignorant of much Bible truth. The whole truth should be told. There is such a thing as analogy, agreement or proportion. Now it is well known there are few minds so wellbalanced as to be equal. Public teachers bave their preferences for certain departments of truth. Consequently, if they allow themselves to select here and there in the wide field of truth a single verse or clause, and ignore the wide spaces between, it will certainly make their teaching sectional and disproportioned. They will sing the same tune, and harp on the same string, to the neglect of some important matters. Although they do so with sufficient variation in the notes to be agreeable, still there is an injuiry done. The manysided truth is not fairly exhibited. Exposition comes in as a remedy to this negative evil. If instead of one clause or verse, a section, or a paragraph, or a chapter, or an entire book, is selected, and we follow on consecutively, resuming next time at the point were we last left off, we shall be obliged to say many things which we would otherwise omit. There would be closer connection and better proportion in our public teaching. Thus necessitated to keep on in a regular course, we would find in many cases a rich yield in what we had deemed a barren portion. Let us then lay down a line of road and

walk patiently over it, and not jump either ourselves or our hearers over considerable parts of the line.

It secures a larger acquaintance with Scripture. Analogical views of truth are important. But these may be held and taught without embodying much of Scripture language. Any point in systematic theology may be treated of largely in words which man's wisdom teacheth. We submit that it is better to preach scripture truth in Scriptural terms, and to have many of the words and phrases of the book interwoven with our discourses.

It is the habit of some preachers in the composition of their sermons to bring out long paragraphs in succession, without either Scripture citation or allusion. Neither its terms nor its facts seem to be of any use to them. Whether it is that they are ignorant of the Bible, or they think they do better in constructing elegant sentences unfettered by formal citation--so the fact is. We cannot say that they do not preach the truth. Our charge against them is that they do not preach the Word. We question their right to preach thus. It is a contempt put upon the letter of scripture. Without going the length of the Bibliolatry, there is large room and sound reason for deep respect to the very words of the book; its vocables have been inspired; it has been secured for our use by singular interpositions of a watchful Providence. Its faithful translation, and transmission to our time, have cost much toil and selfdenial and sacrifice to our ancestors. Besides, the book itself claims to be used in the way we are recommending. We are charged to preach according to the Word. “If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God." 1 Pet. iv. ii. This might be done without using up the very words of Scripture. It would, however, be more surely done by large appropriation of the Word itself. Also, another direction to ministers is, “ Preach the Word.” 2 Tim. iv. 2. This we shall be likely to do, if we give expository preaching a place in our public ministry. We take a considerable portion in hand at once. For the explanation of what we thus take, we draw considerably upon other parts. Such a self-referring volume as the Bible is, binds us to do this, one writer quoting another, one Testament confirming the other, and both Testaments looking backwards and forwards to each other respectively; even later writers in each of the Testaments quoting up the earlier writers of the same.

It frees us from false explanations of Scripture. Many a verse, or clause, viewed apart from its contextual relations, appears to carry a certain meaning with it, which entirely disappears when the scope of the passage is included. Fragments are open to misinterpretation, when severed from their associations as parts of a whole. The clause preceding, or the verse following, or some remoter paragraph read in company with a given passage, will alter


its entire aspect, and show that the signification we assigned to it, in its fragmentary separateness, was not only incomplete but false and wrong. Out of many examples that might be given we select

A text we have often heard preached from, but never explained contextually, is commonly announced as the basis of an exhortation to choose the service of God in preference to the service of Satan. The said text is a mere clip or scrap from Josh. xxiv. 15, “ Choose you this day whom ye will serve." This is always explained, at least as far as the writer of this paper has ever had occasion or opportunity of observing, as if it meant, Choose whether you will serve the Lord or Satan.' The slightest notice of the clause before it and the clauses following it, shows that it has no such meaning. The choice put to them was, between idol gods and idol gods, not between the true and the false but between one false and another false. Joshua did not mean the Lord's service as one of the objects of choice at all, for he had just supposed them to have declined that decidedly. It being supposed that their minds were made up not to serve God, he put them to their choice amongst the mere pretenders to Godhead. The whole verse reads, “ And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land

dwell ;


house we will serve the Lord.” Exposition will cure all such blind appropriations of odd sentences and clauses and put them in their true light. If public speakers will use passages of Scripture aside from their true import, by taking them for texts, we certainly have a right to ask them to be honest, and to tell their hearers before they begin to treat such texts that the meaning they intend to put on them is not what they really mean, but just a production of their own ingenious, fruitful fancy. If this last sentence be thought too severe, the writer is willing to submit to the same rule and bear the same rebuke when he shall be found in fault. Another benefit of exposition is, that

It frees us from the bondage of creeds, and the narrowness of denominational theology. What is a creed? A human composition purporting to be a compendium of Biblical doctrine. As all creeds have been drawn up by fallible men they must be held as secondary, and subject to the authoritative Word. It is probable, not to say certain, that they are amiss on some points either through defect, or redundance, or both. If a pulpit man be closely creedbound, some texts thought to be antagonist to his creed will almost certainly be slighted and shunned. He will instinctively turn from them and find his way to those that are more obviously in favour of the doctrines dear to him. We have heard of a minister

as for



« AnteriorContinuar »