(Taken from American Preachers of To-Day by Edgar DeWitt Jones, 1933)
In the year 1901 a tall, slender, lean-faced, non-conformist preacher came from London to conduct a series of preaching missions in America. He arrived bearing the reputation of a brilliant sermonizer with unique gifts as an expositor of the Holy Scriptures. But lately out of college, I heard with avidity and delight this English preacher in a half-dozen memorable sermons delivered in the Ninth Street Baptist Church, Cincinnati. His sermons were forty-five minutes to an hour in length and nobody went away before the benediction. The preacher was G. Campbell Morgan, who later returned to this country to make his home and to preach from one end of the land to the other; and nearly always to crowded churches.
Campbell Morgan is a scholar who loves his Greek New Testament, and a preacher of marked speaking ability. His voice is cultivated and while not considerable in volume is rich in timbre and exceedingly flexible. Dr. Morgan is the teacher in the pulpit. He is always unfolding, interpreting and illustrating religious truth. He can be cutting, and frequently is, and he also possesses a delicious brand of humor. His descriptive powers are extra good, and there is a dramatic quality about his preaching that magnetizes. One who heard Dr. Morgan remarked to me, “Morgan can get more out of a familiar passage of Scripture that I didn’t know was there, and some things that I am not yet certain are there, than any man I ever heard preach.” Truly, this man’s mastery of Biblical material is marvelous. And with what zest he preaches!
Replying to my inquiries as to his sermonizing methods, Dr. Morgan cited an address on “Fifty Years Preaching–And More,” which he gave in the chapel of the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, copy of which he handed me. Two or three excerpts from this informal talk will serve to show Campbell Morgan’s conception of the ministry and how he goes about preparation to preach.
“If I am to talk about fifty years and more of preaching it may be well to go back to the beginning. I was born in 1863. In the year 1876 I preached my first sermon in public. I played at preaching long before that. My sister, four years older than I, used to put her dolls in a row and I conducted services regularly, and preached to my sister and her dolls. There is a philosophy in that. I have been playing at preaching ever since. Preaching to me is the biggest fun in the world. I would rather preach than do anything else.
“I have never found an hour–I am now thinking of things in life generally, quite apart from the individual–I have never found an hour in my ministry in which the Bible has had no message. It never was my habit in pastorates, and never will be wherever my life may be cast, to preach on current events. But there have been hours when it was necessary that from the pulpit there should sound the prophetic voice to some national or international situation. I never found an hour when I had to go anywhere except to my Bible to find the message for such an hour. The Bible is the most living literature, absolutely up-to-date–I apologize to it–ahead of any date man has ever reached, waiting for us, guarding and keeping us in the true perspective, if we are familiar with it. But if a local situation occurs, and a man thinks he ought to preach on it, and desires to preach on a text from the Bible, God help him if he goes to the concordance to find out what to say! There must be familiarity. We must live in the literature all the time, if we are to be ready when the special occasion arises.
“Still further, I have tried to remember that a phase of truth is not the whole of Truth. I do think that is important. I need not stay to stress it, but so many men I have known have squinted at one thing, and seen nothing else. There are some men who think if you do not say something about the premillenial Coming ever time you preach, you are unsound! I think I will take my courage in both hands and tell you a story. A good brother, Baptist, gave out his text one morning, ‘Adam, where art thou?’ and said, ‘There are three lines we should follow. First, where Adam was; secondly, how he was to be got from where he was; and thirdly and lastly, a few words about baptism’!
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