ONE of the quaintest, most pertinent, and most valuable homiletic counsels ever given to a preacher of the Gospel is that contained in the maxim, "Get full of your subject, pull out the bung, and let nature caper."

Whatever may be the subject of discourse, when a man is full of it, when he is wrapped up in it, when it lies very near to his heart, when he dwells upon it day and night and can think of nothing else, he .has only to open his mouth and it will, flow liquid gold. The subject is revolved over and over in his own mind, he is acquainted with it in every aspect, it opens out before him of its own accord, he knows his way through it, and at every turn it gleams and corruscates with illustrations which do not need to be hunted for, but which present themselves in numerous and sparkling array in response to the warmth of his interest in the subject he seeks to expound.

This is true in a special degree of the study of the Bible. Once we have attained to a thorough mastery of the content of the Bible, once we succeed in getting " full of it," we shall be on the look-out for opportunities of conveying to others the truths we have learned to prize for ourselves. There is all the difference in the world between " having to say something " and " having something to say." The man who knows his Bible is never at a loss for a theme. When his heart warms to it, the subject divides itself up in his mind, and he has only to let himself go, and the inspired Word will rush through his inspired lips, or seek an outlet through his inspired pen. " Get full of your subject, pull out the bung, and let nature caper."

The Bible is " the Sword of the Spirit." The problem is how to wield it; how to make use of the knowledge we have of it. There are some who mount the pulpit, and, fleet of foot like Ahimaaz, they outstrip the slower but better informed Cushis, and obtain earlier audience of the king, but they have no tidings ready, and when called upon to speak they have nothing to say (2 Sam. 18:19-33). " Get full of your subject." Master the content of. the Word of God. Illustrations and divisions, exordiums and perorations, grammar and rhetoric will then take care of themselves.

The man who knows his Bible, and knows it to some purpose, will first of all apply its truths to his own personal conduct and daily life. And he will find it all that David, in the 119th Psalm, declares it to be : a source,of blessing, a defence against iniquity, a fountain of honour, a vision of wonder, a loosening of. the tongue, an enlarging of the heart, a source of comfort and quickening, of establishment and salvation. When David meditated in the law of the Lord, he began to talk, he began to sing, he began to run, he was wiser than his enemies, he knew more than his teachers, he opened his mouth and panted, he rose early before the dawn that he might meditate in the Word, and said of its testimonies, "I love them exceedingly." That is the universal experience and the universal testimony of all those who make themselves acquainted with the love-kindling, life-quickening properties of the Word of God.

The ultimate. reality of our life is the life we live with God. The way to live with God is the way of intimate knowledge of His holy will, through loving obedience to His holy Word.

It is one of the unfailing characteristics of those who obtain an intimate knowledge of the Word of God, that their hearts immediately begin to burn with the desire to communicate that knowledge to others. They have " something to say." They are "full of it." They are possessed by it. They have only to " pull out the bung " and nature will immediately begin to " caper."

This fulness of knowledge finds appropriate utterance on the most unlikely occasions. It is never out of place. It never gives offence. The business of the Christian minister, the lay- preacher, the Sunday School teacher, the city missionary, the Church member, is by sermon, by lesson, by conversation, by example, to wield "the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God." But the Word must be read, and studied, and believed ; it must be loved, and honoured, and obeyed, in order that it may be to others in like manner their joy and their salvation.

Chapter 5 Table of Contents Chapter 7