King's Business - 1911-11

greatest need, being supplied, many preach- ers will go on preaching social, ethical and political matters instead. II. EZRA'S BIBLE. 1. It was "the book of the law of Moses." The destructive critics say that Moses did not give the law; that it originated prin- cipally about Ezra's time. But here we tind it called for as the book of Moses, a book long known to those people as such, and no doubt they had a better opportunity to know who wrote it than twentieth cen- tury sceptics. 2. It was that "which the Lord commanded to Israel." The sceptics also deny that the Lord had anything di- rectly to do with it. They deny that Moses wrote it, and they deny that Jehovah ut- tered it. But Israel, within a thousand years of Moses, was more competent to know, what had been handed down to them by their fathers, than alien men who live three thousand years later. Jesus taught that Moses wrote what God commanded l^Jno. 7:19; Mat. 15:4), and what Jesus said settles everything for us. Ezra's Bible was almost identical with our Bible; very little of it was written later than he. And the Jews were accustomed to speak of it all as "the law." III. EZRA'S CONGREGATION. 1. It was general. "Men and women, and all that could understand"; youth, and chil- dren of a few years. All church assemblies for preaching and teaching should include the children. We believe In Sunday schools, and young people's meetings, but only be- cause all things are so far below the ideal. The congregations should be made up of whole families. If parents caused their chil- dren to know their Bibles at home, and to know the doctrines of the Bible and the Church, and if the pulpit was distinctly biblical and doctrinal in its utterances, chil- dren, as well as elder people, would be in- tensely interested and intelligent church- goers. The Bible and its teachings are level with the understanding of young and old, and full of delight to all, if well set forth and expounded. 2. It was "attentive." He read "and the ears of all the people were attentive." They did not show the irrev- erence so familiar to us. They, were not scheming "deals," and bargains; and plan- ning labors, and play, and parties, for the coming week; they were not whispering about their neighbors, studying the style and qualities of suits and hats; picking flaws in the discourse; but were "attentive unto the book of ithe law," and to the exposition of the preacher when he "gave the sense." IV. EZRA'S CONDUCT OF THE SERVICE. 1. His pulpit. This is the only place where "pulpit" occurs in the Bible. The Hebrew is "a high place"; a platform of wood. But a pulpit is a "high place" in another sense, and the man who stands in it should feel the high honor (Eph. 3:7, 8); and the grave responsibility (1 Cor. 4:1, 2), and the accountability (1 Cor. 9:16) in- volved. It is much the same with Sunday school teachers, even in the primary classes. 2. His subject matter. "He opened the Book." He unrolled the scroll. But the phrase is suggestive. It is the business of preachers and teachers to "open the Book." Leave sciences, and literature, sociology and politics, and current news and gossip, and jests and buf£6onery, for secular occasions. It is said of the Greatest of preachers, "When He had opened the Book" (Luke 4:17), and the preacher next in rank, Paul, said, "Preach the Word" (2 Tim. 4:2). The teacher might show here why the Book is

called "the Book," that it is worthy to be •so called, and to be read, and to be taught. It is the Book of books, the Book of God, "the God of books," "the only Book," Sir Walter Scott called It. It is the only source of true preaching, for it is inspired of God, contains the knowledge of the Father and the Son, whom to know is eternal life (Jno. 17:3); it; contains His commandments. His warnings, His way of salvation, and is the light to our path and the lamp to our feet (Psa. 119:105). 3. His expression. "They read distinctly." There is no better com- mentator than he who reads the Word dis- tinctly. The Bible is the most abused of all books, and the most prevailing abuse is that of execrable reading of it. Once in a great while we hear it well and intelligently read and nothing is more edifying. Any man could hold the attention of his audience with a passage of Scripture read with good elocution. No book is capable of producing so delightful and powerful an impression. Is it not a shame to "tear its passion to tatters?" As commonly read, it is expres- sionless, often perverted, and sometimes meaningless. Bet the teacher illustrate by a short example the difference between good and bad Bible reading. 4. His exposition. "Gave the sense," i. e., the meaning. "Read- ing distinctly," correctly, is for many pas- sages all that is needed to give the sense; but other places should be expounded. They might as well be read in an unknown tongue if the understanding is not enlightened. If a teacher is qualified, as he should be, a brief comment here and there as he reads would illumine the whole passage and quicken the interest, and often the emo- tions, of the hearer. Better a few verses understood, than a whole chapter without apprehension. And no doubt Ezra and his helpers remembered the little folks and fed "My lambs." Let all your comments and all your stories be to "give the sense" of the reading. Hold the attention of your class, but hold by, to and for the Word of God. V. THE EFFECT ON THE CONGREGA- TION. 1. They wept. "The people wept when they heard the words of the law." No pages have been wet with tears as much as the Bible's. The sin and the sorrows, the peni- tence, and the consolations, the pathos and the promise, the memories and the asso- ciations of it are full of tears, "And he who reads this book with, tears, His tears" are wiped away." The people- w:ept, I suppose, for the glories that had passed away; for sorrows that had grieved their fathers; for the sins that had embittered their, own lives; for the folly of forsaking their own mercies; for the dread of further woes threatening their sinfulness; for the wonderful and tender mercies of- the Lord they had dishonored; for penitential grief. It is good to be "at- tentive," and to hear the word of the Lord read distinctly, and to get the sense of it. 2. They were comforted. When Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites saw the people weep- ing they said, "Hold your peace ,for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved." God, by His Word, chastens us' to make us weep, but when He sees our tears His Father- heart is moved with pity and He begins to dry them (Rev. 21:4) and to comfort us (See also Jno. 16:20-22). If- we are sorry for our, sins He, asks' no more - but to wash our faces at Calvary's Fountain, that we ma y ' l o o k u n to Him and our faces be bright- ened (Psa. 84:5). It is a beautiful sight to see God's children smiling through their

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