The A and the Z
by T. Dewitt Talmage
Christ is the A and the Z of the Christian ministry. A sermon that has no Christ is a dead failure. The minister who devotes his pulpit to anything but Christ is an imposter. Whatever great themes we may discuss, Christ must be the beginning and Christ the end. From His hand we get our commission at first, and to that same hand we at last surrender it. Though the colleges may give you a diploma, and Presbytery lay their hands on your head, if Christ send you not forth, you go on a fool’s errand; and though the schools reject you as incompetent, if the, Lord God tells you to preach, you have a right to go, and there is at least one pulpit in the land where your right to proclaim the Gospel is acknowledged. A sermon devoted to metaphysics is a stack of dry corn-stalks after the corn has been ripped out with the husking-peg. A sermon given up to sentimental and flowery speech is as a nosegay flung to a drowning sailor. A sermon devoted to moral essay is a basket of chips to help on the great burning. What the world wants now is to be told in the most flatfooted way of Jesus Christ, who comes to save men from eternal damnation. Christ the Light, Christ the Sacrifice, Christ the Rock, Christ the Star, Christ the Balm, Christ the Guide. If a minister should live one thousand years, and preach ten sermons each day, those subjects would not be exhausted. Do you find men tempted? Tell them of Christ the Shield. Or troubled? Tell them of Christ the Comfort. Or guilty? Tell them of Christ the Pardon. Or dying? Tell them of Christ the Life. Scores of ministers, yielding to the demands of the age for elegant rhetoric, and soft speech, and flattering terms, have surrendered their pulpits to the devil, “horse, foot, and dragoon.” May Christ be the burden of our talk; Christ the inspiration of our prayers; Christ the theme of our songs; Christ now, and Christ forever. In that stern hour when we feel that we shall never preach again, and we have ascended for the last time the pulpit, all but Christ will be nothing. Philosophy nothing; denominations nothing; conferences nothing; assemblies nothing; ourselves nothing, but CHRIST EVERYTHING!