By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
ADVICE TO A YOUNG PREACHER
By William Bramwell
"My dear Brother: I saw your mother this morning who desired I would write to you. I understand that you are quite satisfied you are in your place; I mean as a traveling preacher -- a work which makes me, even to the present time, tremble in the presence of God. I am still persuaded that nothing can support us but that almighty power which raised the Lord Jesus from the dead.
"Yet it is quite possible for you and me to make this a worldly business; that it may become so formal as to create in us no more concern than any common business in life.
"Shall the Lord ordain us to this heavenly calling? Shall He empower us with the spirit and zeal of power? Shall He send us forth into this labor to save sinners from everlasting damnation? And shall we after all lose the true spirit of our calling? How can we give in our account?
"Consider this, my dear brother, and strictly examine yourself. Do you rise about four o'clock every morning? In order to do this, do you retire to rest as soon as your work and eating are over? Or do you sit and chat with the people? Do you give yourself to reading and prayer? I say GIVE, give yourself to these. Are you never in company above an hour at once? And when in company do you turn all into profit, into religion? Are you a man of God in spirit, in word, in deed? Do you feel a clear witness of entire sanctification -- the cleansing blood? And do you declare this and walk in it? I want you also to be a preacher. And, in order to this, would it not be well to read the Scriptures without comment, find out the breadth and length, depth and height, by digging, prayer and receiving light from God? Whoever depends on comments will be very superficial, and will never speak with proper confidence. You may sometimes examine a comment after your own labor, to see what difference, etc., but never before it. Write something every day; have a book for the purpose; and never lose one idea which the Lord in mercy gives you. In preaching never be tedious; the world never did and never will bear that which is tedious. Let your introduction be a short opening to your sermon. An introduction is to prepare the people to receive what you have to say. Let your sermon be clear and strong, reaching every heart. 'Save thyself and them that hear thee.'
"If you have no end in view but the bringing of souls to God, this will cure almost everything. Strive to bring some home in every sermon. God will be with you and He will bless you. He will give you the desire of your heart. Be neat and clean in all your clothes; never foppish or fine. Have everything consistent with your Lord Jesus. Set Him before you at all times. Never be ceremonious; yet learn a good address. Be courteous, be kind, never light or trifling. Oh, my brother, live for eternity; the Lord is at hand. Be ready every moment for glory; ever as willing to leave this earth as to go to sleep. Pray, pray, pray, and never cease. I am yours affectionately."