Formal Discourses—Some ministers, in the preparation of their discourses, arrange every detail with such exactness that they give the Lord no room to lead their minds. Every point is fixed, stereotyped, as it were, and they seem unable to depart from the plan marked out. This is a grave error, and if followed, will cause ministers to become narrow-minded, and will leave them as destitute of spiritual life and energy as were the hills of Gilboa of dew and rain.
When a minister feels that he cannot vary from a set discourse, the effect is little better than that produced by reading a sermon. Tame, formal discourses have in them very little of the vitalizing power of the Holy Spirit; and the habit of preaching such discourses will effectually destroy a minister’s usefulness and ability.
God would have His workmen wholly dependent upon Him. They must listen to hear what saith the Lord, asking, What is Thy word for the people? Their hearts should be open, so that God may impress their minds, and then they will be able to give the people truth fresh from heaven. The Holy Spirit will give them ideas adapted to meet the needs of those present.
Reverence—I have heard some ministers talk of Christ’s life and teachings in a commonplace manner, as if recounting incidents in the life of some great man of the world. Indeed, it is not unusual for ministers to speak of Christ as if He were a man like themselves.