To Preach It—Ye Must Own It!

“The public teachings of the Ministers of Jesus Christ should be an announcement of their own faith, and their descriptions of the experience and practice of vital godliness should be an exhibition of their own sanctified mental exercises. "I have believed, therefore have I spoken," [Ps 116:10; 2 Cor 4:13] should be their motto. Professing to teach to others the way of life, they should afford good evidence of being themselves taught of God the Holy Ghost; and that individual tampers most fearfully with all his immortal interests who assumes to speak to others on the subject of personal religion, while he is himself a stranger to its life and power. As well might it be expected, that the man born blind should describe intelligibly the nature and properties of the light which he never saw, and whose glories he is unable to comprehend, as that the unsanctified Christian minister should delineate aright the life of faith in the soul, or commend with success to others the excellencies of a Saviour in whom he has no interest for himself. There may indeed be such a thing as repeating at second hand what may have been said or written by others, and giving as our own the elaborations of other minds, but when this is done in the name of religion, it is but a mockery of God, and is likely to be of little benefit to saint or sinner. In the Psalms of David, several of the Epistles of Paul, and other portions of the word of God, we have an exhibition of the Christian experience of their respective writers. They indeed "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," [2 Pet 1:21] but in guiding their pens, that blessed Agent who was the author of their personal sanctification, enabled them to speak correctly of what they knew, felt, and enjoyed themselves. Having in view these inspired models, we would say, that the discourse on personal religion should be an exhibition of the gracious mental exercises of its author—a picture of his own sanctified heart—the result of his observations and reasonings on the piety of others. The common sense of the hearer or reader tells him that such should be its character; and when the conviction that it is so fills his mind, with how much stronger confidence does he trust in, and employ it as a help to his own faith and consolation!”

~JOHN NIEL McLEOD, D.D. THE LIFE AND POWER OF TRUE GODLINESS; DESCRIBED IN A SERIES OF DISCOURSES BY ALEXANDER McLEOD, D. D. LATE PASTOR OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, NEW YORK