Maclaren had been for almost sixty-five years a minister, entirely devoted to his calling. He lived more than almost any of the great preachers of his time between his study, his pulpit, his pen.
He subdued action to thought, thought to utterance and utterance to the Gospel. His life was his ministry; his ministry was his life. In 1842 he was enrolled as a candidate for the Baptist ministry at Stepney College, London. He was tall, shy, silent and looked no older than his sixteen years. But his vocation, as he himself (a consistent Calvinist) might have said, was divinely decreed. "I cannot ever recall any hesitation as to being a minister," he said. "It just had to be."
In the College he was thoroughly grounded in Greek and Hebrew. He was taught to study the Bible in the original and so the foundation was laid for his distinctive work as an expositor and for the biblical content of his preaching. Before Maclaren had finished his course of study he was invited to Portland Chapel in Southampton for three months; those three months became twelve years. He began his ministry there on June 28, 1846. His name and fame grew.
His ministry fell into a quiet routine for which he was always grateful: two sermons on Sunday, a Monday prayer meeting and a Thursday service and lecture. His parishioners thought his sermons to them were the best he ever preached. In April 1858 he was called to be minister at Union Chapel in Manchester. No ministry could have been happier. The church prospered and a new building had to be erected to seat 1,500; every sitting was taken. His renown as preacher spread throughout the English-speaking world. His pulpit became his throne. He was twice elected President of the Baptist Union. He resigned as pastor in 1905 after a ministry of forty-five years.
Maclaren's religious life was hid with Christ in God. He walked with God day by day. He loved Jesus Christ with a reverent, holy love and lived to make Him known. In his farewell sermon at Union he said: "To efface oneself is one of a preacher's first duties."
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A Confession and a Warning
THE FIRST WORDS OF these wonderful discourses were, "Let not your heart be troubled." They struck the key-note of the whole. The aim of all was to bring peace and confidence unto the disciples' spirits. And this joyful burst of confession which wells up so spontaneously and irrepressibly from their hearts, shows that the aim has been reached. For a ...read
A Pattern of Prayer
WHEN YE PRAY, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do" --Matthew 6:7. But earnest reiteration is not vain repetition. The second is born of doubt; the first, of faith. The prayer that springs from a deep felt need, and will not cease till that need is supplied, may say the same things over a hundred times and yet they shall not be vain. Rather, ...read
FORESIGHT AND FOREBODING ARE two very different things. It is not that the one is the exaggeration of the other, but the one is opposed to the other. The more a man looks forward, in the exercise of foresight, the less he does so in the exercise of foreboding. And the more he is tortured by anxious thoughts about a possible future, the less clear v ...read
Christ "Must" Die
The work of Jesus Christ could not be done unless He died. He could not be the Savior of the world unless He was the sacrifice for the sins of the world.
. . . It was because of the requirements of the divine righteousness, and because of the necessities of sinful men. And so Christ's was no martyr's death, who had to die as the penalty of the ...read
Christianity has transformed hope and given it a new importance by opening to it a new world to move in and supplying to it new guarantees to rest on. There is something very remarkable in the prominence given to hope in the New Testament and in the power ascribed to it to order a noble life. Paul goes so far as to say that we are saved by it. To a ...read
AS THESE Two, Abraham and Isaac, were traveling up the hill, the son bearing the wood and the father with the sad burden of the fire and the knife, the boy said: "Where is the lamb?" and Abraham, thrusting down his emotion and steadying his voice, said: 'My son, God will provide Himself a lamb." When the wonderful issue of the trial was plain befor ...read
Love And Fear
JOHN HAS BEEN SPEAKING of boldness, and that naturally suggests its opposite-fear. He has been saying that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment, because it produces likeness to Christ, who is the Judge. In my text he explains and enlarges that statement. For there is another way in which love produces boldness, and that is by castin ...read
Take Up the Challenge
ANOTHER PSALMIST PROMISES TO the man who dwells "in the secret place of the Most High" that "he shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh at noonday," but shall "tread upon the lion and adder." These promises divide the dangers that beset us into the same two classes as ou ...read
The Absent Present Christ
THE SWEET AND GRACIOUS comforting with which Christ had been soothing the disciples' fears went very deep, but hitherto they had not gone deep enough. It was much that they should know the purpose of His going, whither He went, and that they had an interest in His departure. It was much that they should have before them the prospect of reunion; muc ...read
The Cross the Proof
GOD COMMENDETH HIS LOVE. That is true and beautiful, but that is not all that the apostle means. We "commend" persons and things when we speak of them with praise and confidence. If that were the meaning of my text, it would represent the death of Christ as setting forth, in a manner to win our hearts, the greatness, the excellence, the transcenden ...read
The Gradual Healing Of The Blind Man
THIS MIRACLE, which is only recorded by the Evangelist Mark, has about it several very peculiar features. Some of these it shares with one other of our Lord's miracles, which also is found only in this gospel, and which occurred about the same time; that miracle of healing the deaf and dumb man recorded in the previous chapter. Both of them have th ...read
The Guiding Piller
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL in the wilderness, surrounded by miracle, had nothing which we do not possess. They had some things in an inferior form; their sustenance came by manna; ours comes by God's blessing on our daily work, which is better. Their guidance came by this supernatural pillar; ours comes by the reality of which that pillar was nothing b ...read
The Measure Of Immeasurable Power
THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF the inheritance" will sometimes quench rather than stimulate hope. He can have little depth of religion who has not often felt that the transcendent glory of that promised future sharpens the doubt-- "and can I ever hope to reach it?" Our paths are strewn with battlefields where we were defeated; how should we expect the ...read
The Shepherd - The Stone Of Israel
A SLIGHT alteration in the rendering will probably bring out the meaning of these words more correctly. The last two clauses should perhaps not be read as a separate sentence. Striking out the supplement "is," and letting the previous sentence run on to the end of the verse, we get a series of names of God, in apposition with each other, as the so ...read
Water of Life
The condition, the only condition, and the indispensable condition, of possessing that water of life--the summary expression for all the gifts of God in Jesus Christ, which at the last are essentially God Himself--is the desire to possess it turned to Jesus Christ. . .
But it is not enough that there should be the desire. It must be turned to H ...read
Zion's Joy and God's
WHAT A WONDERFUL RUSH of exuberant gladness there is in these words! The swift, short clauses, the triple invocation in the former verse, the triple promise in the latter, the heaped together synonyms, all help the impression. The very words seem to dance with joy. But more remarkable than this is the parallelism between the two verses. Zion is cal ...read