The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned,
that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
by, Joseph Parker, 1830-1902
As we see the divinity in our gifts shall we be careful of them, thankful for them: every gift seems to enshrine the giver, God. But how extraordinary that this power of speaking to the weary should not be taught in the schools. It is not within the ability of man to teach other men how to speak to the weary-hearted, the wounded in spirit, the sore in the innermost feelings of the being. But can we lay down directions about this and offer suggestions? Probably so, but we do not touch the core of the matter. There is an infinite difference between the scholar and the genius. The scholar is made, the genius is inspired. Information can be imparted, but the true sense, the sense that feels and sees God, is a gift direct from heaven.
Though the gift itself is divine, we must remember that it is to be exercised seasonably. The text is, “that I should know how to speak a word in season.” There is a time for everything. It is not enough to speak the right word, it must be spoken at the right moment. Who can know when that is! We can not be taught. We must feel it, see it hours beyond: nay, must know when to be silent for the whole twenty-four hours and to say, “To-morrow, at such and such a time, we will drop that sentence upon the listening ear.” “The day after to-morrow, he will probably be in circumstances to admit of this communication being delivered with sympathy and effect.”
I have a ripe seed in my hand. As an agriculturist I am going to sow it. Any laborer in the field can tell me that I should be acting foolishly in sowing it just now. Why? “It is out of season,” the man says. “There is a time for the doing of that action: I will tell you when the time returns—do it then, and you may expect a profitable result of your labor.”
Everywhere in this Book of God we find a supreme wish to help man. When we most need help the words are sweeter than the honeycomb. When other books are dumb, this Book speaks most sweetly. It is like a star, it shines in the darkness, it waits the going down of the superficial sun of our transient prosperity, and then it breaks upon us as the shadows thicken. This is the real greatness of God: he will not break the bruised reed.
The idea of the healing is the idea of a creator. He who creates also heals. Herein we see God’s estimate of human nature: if He cared only for the great, the splendid, the magnificent, the robust, and the everlasting, then He would indeed be too like ourselves. The greatness of God and the estimate which He places upon human nature are most seen in all these ministrations in reference to the weak and the weary and the young and the feeble and the sad. Made originally in the image of God, man is dear to his Maker, though ever so broken. Oh, poor prodigal soul with the divinity nearly broken out of thee, smashed, bleeding, crushed, all but in hell—while there is a shadow of thee outside perdition, He would heal thee and save thee. Thou art a ruin, but a grand one,—the majestic ruin of a majestic edifice, for knowest thou not that thou wast the temple of God?
We go in for things that are fittest, strongest, most promising, healthy, self-complete, and therein we think we are wise. God says, “Not a lamb must be left out—bring them in: not a sick man must be omitted: not a poor publican sobbing his ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ must be omitted from the great host. Bring them all in, sick, weary, wounded, feeble, young, illiterate, poor, insignificant, without name, fame, station, force—all in: gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.” Let us go to that Shepherd—He will spare us and love us. When our poor strength gives out, He will not set His cruel heel upon us and kill us, He will gather us in His arms and make the whole flock stand still till He has saved the weakest one.
Christ is calling for thee; I heard His sweet voice lift itself up in the wild wind and ask whither thou hadst fled, that He might save thee from death and bring thee home. There is no wrath in His face or voice, no sword is swung by His hand as if in cruel joy, saying, “Now at last I have My chance with you.” His eyes gleam with love: His voice melts in pity: His words are gospels, every one. Let Him but see thee sad for sin, full of grief because of the wrong thou hast done, and He will raise thee out of the deep pit and set thy feet upon the rock.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Joseph Parker was born at Hexham-on-Tyne, England, in 1830. He was a prodigious worker, writer, and preacher. His “The People’s Bible,” in twenty-eight large volumes, a popular commentary on the Scriptures, is his greatest work. To a naturally energetic personality he added great originality and resourcefulness. He gave much time to the preparation of sermons, reading them aloud as he wrote in order to test their effect upon the ear. A strong personal quality pervaded all his preaching. “If I have not seen Him myself,” he said, “I cannot preach Him.” In lectures to students he gave much valuable advice gathered from the storehouse of his own varied experience. He gave particular attention to the use of the voice. “It is not enough,” he said, “that you be heard; you must be effective as well as audible; you must lighten and thunder with the voice; it must rise and fall like a storm at times; now a whisper, now a trumpet, now the sound of many waters. There is an orator’s voice, and there is a bellman’s. The auctioneer talks; the orator speaks.” Dr. Parker’s sermons are published in numerous volumes. He died in 1902. The above paragraphs were excerpts from “The People’s Bible,” by Joseph Parker, published by Funk & Wagnalls Company.]
Dr Parker was twice chairman of the London Congregational Board and twice of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. In 1887 he visited the United States, where he delivered a eulogy on Henry Ward Beecher, with whom he had been on very intimate terms.
He was influenced by Thomas Cooper, the Chartist, and Edward Miall, the Liberationist, and was much associated with Joseph Cowen, afterwards MP for Newcastle upon Tyne.