Continuing Horatius Bonar’s Words to Winners of Souls (see here for book information)…
The biographer of the Rev. W.H. Hewitson begins his memoir thus: “‘To restore a commonplace truth,’ writes Mr. Coleridge, ‘to its first uncommon luster, you need only translate it into action.’ Walking with God is a very commonplace truth. Translate this truth into action—how lustrous it becomes! The phrase, how hackneyed!—the thing, how rare! It is such a walk—not an abstract ideal, but a personality, a life—which the reader is invited to contemplate in the subject of this memoir.” Oh, that we would only set ourselves in right earnest to this rare work of translation!
It is said of the energetic, pious, and successful John Berridge, that “communion with God was what he enforced in the latter stages of his ministry. It was, indeed, his own meat and drink, and the banquet from which he never appeared to rise.” This shows us the source of his great strength. If we were always sitting at this banquet, then it might be recorded of us ere long, as of him, “He was in the first year visited by about a thousand persons under serious impressions.”
To the men even more than to their doctrine we would point the eye of the inquirer who asks, Whence came their success? Why, may not the same success be ours? We may take the sermons of Whitefield or Berridge or Edwards for our study or our pattern, but it is the individuals themselves that we must mainly set before us; it is with the spirit of the men, more than of their works, that we are to be imbued, if we are emulous of a ministry as powerful, as victorious as theirs. They were spiritual men, and walked with God. It is living fellowship with a living Savior which, transforming us into His image, fits us for being able and successful ministers of the gospel. Without this nothing else will avail. Neither orthodoxy, nor learning, nor eloquence, nor power of argument, nor zeal, nor fervor, will accomplish aught without this. It is this that gives power to our words and persuasiveness to our arguments, making them either as the balm of Gilead to the wounded spirit or as sharp arrows of the mighty to the conscience of the stout-hearted rebel. From them that walk with Him in holy, happy intercourse, a virtue seems to go forth, a blessed fragrance seems to compass them whithersoever they go.
Nearness to Him, intimacy with Him, assimilation to His character—these are the elements of a ministry of power. When we can tell our people, “We beheld His glory, and therefore we speak of it; it is not from report we speak, but we have seen the King in His beauty”—how lofty the position we occupy! Our power in drawing men to Christ springs chiefly from the fullness of our personal joy in Him, and the nearness of our personal communion with Him. The countenance that reflects most of Christ, and shines most with His love and grace, is most fitted to attract the gaze of a careless, giddy world, and win restless souls from the fascinations of creature-love and creature-beauty. A ministry of power must be the fruit of a holy, peaceful, loving intimacy with the Lord.