. . .may I not say that it may, and should be, the result of my temporary absence from you that some of you should be driven to a more first-hand acquaintance with God and with His Word?  I, like all Christian ministers, have, of course, my favorite ways of looking at truth, limitations of temperament, and idiosyncrasies of various sorts which color the representations that I make of God’s great Word.  All the river cannot run through any pipe, and what does run is sure to taste, somewhat, of the soil through which it runs.  And, for some of you, after thirty years of hearing my way of putting things – and I have long since told you all that I have got to say – it will be a good thing to have someone else to speak to you, who will come with other aspects of that great truth and look at it from other angles and reflect other hues of its perfect whiteness.  So, partly because of these limitations of mine, partly because you have grown so accustomed to my voice that the things I say do not produce half as much effect on many of you as if I were saying them to somebody else, or somebody else were saying them to you, and partly because the affection, born of so many years of united worship for which, in many respects, I am your debtor, may lead you to look at the vessel rather than the treasure, do you not think it may be a means of blessing and help to this congregation that I should step aside for a little while and someone else should stand here and you should be driven to make acquaintance with God and the Word of His grace a little more for yourselves?  What does it matter though you do not have my sermons?  You have your Bibles and you have God’s Spirit.  And, if my silence shall lead any of you to prize and to use these more than you have done, then my silence will have done a great deal more than my speech.  Ministers are like doctors – the test of their success is that they are not needed any more.  And, when we can say, “They can stand without us and do not need us,” that is the crown of our ministry. – Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910), from a meditation on Acts 20.32.

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