Otis H. (Otis Henry) Tiffany.

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Copyright, 1893, by



Clectrotyped, printed, and bound by

150 Fifth Avenue, New York.



5To lljc





Brooklyn^ N. X., li'qj.


THE honor and responsibility of selecting for publication and
conducting through the press a few of Dr. Tiffany's sermons
and lectures have been conferred on me, and I am grateful
for the privilege of being thus identified with one whose name
and ministry are known throughout Methodism.

It was my purpose to arrange the sermons in the order of
the church year, an arrangement that would have been in
harmony with Dr. Tiffany's general plan of preaching, but as
many of his special discourses were not written out in full I
had to adopt another course.

Concerning the selections made, it is but just to say that
my thought has been to present something of the variety and
character of Dr. Tiffany's ministry. I fervently hope that in
some degree, at least, this result has been secured.


St. John's Parsonage, Brooklyn, A r . Y.




ORATORY. Acts xxvi, i 13


THE CROSS. Isa. vi, 14 39


THANKSGIVING. Psalm cxlvii, 20 67

CHRISTMAS. Rev. xxii, 16 86

THE NEW BIRTH. John ill, 17 98

THE THINGS WHICH ARE OESAR'S. Matt, xxii, 21 .113

THE SILENCE OF CHRIST. Matt, xxvii, 12-14 128

JACOB'S VISION. Gen. xxviii, n 140


ii, 9 ; Luke v, 23 153

A WOMAN'S INFLUENCE. Ruth i, 19 169







WHO that has heard the voice of the noble Tiffany, or be-
held his movement in the pulpit and on the platform, or felt
the throbbing of his great heart will not be glad that a volume
of his spoken words is to become the world's treasure? In
his coronation the American pulpit parted with one of its best
workers. He belonged to the front rank of men to whose
heart and lips was confided the Great Message. Now that
he is translated his name and fame are an inheritance both
rich and permanent. In manner he was royal. He came to
his dignity alike by ancestry and training. Then, what he
said proved his lofty conception of his holy office and the
majesty of Him who had commissioned the messenger. He
kept loyally within the lines of his greatest fitness. What he
did, therefore, was the achievement of a master.

This marvelous man I came to know when he was a young
and brilliant professor in Dickinson College. His uniform
kindness, his tenderness and sacrifice during the long and
dangerous illness of a boy without claim upon him, and
the sweetness with which his goodness was always manifested
have lived on through the years. The world is still stub-
bornly lonely without him. One wonders why the grasp of
his hand comes not again.

This volume of Sermons and Addresses, strong and noble
as they are, convey but a faint idea of the luxuriance of the
man's genius and the rich harvest of his life. He was superb
in all his ways. As to his voice, where shall we go to hear


its equal ? Of the grandeur of the preacher's mission he was
fully conscious. In measuring his own powers he was modest
beyond words. Once, being asked to deliver a course of lec-
tures on the Delivery of Sermons, he outrightly declined,
saying that he had not the capacity to teach the art. I re-
minded him of himself, but received no assuring answer. In
substance he said, " That may be as you say, but I do not
know how to teach what would be expected of me."

These Sermons and Addresses have been gathered from
the large accumulations of a brilliant and useful ministerial
career. They are worthy of the man, of his Church, of his
many friends, and of a place on the table of all, laymen and
preachers. They who read will say, Why is the volume not
double its present size? But no volume can convey the
charm of the preacher's wonderful presence or superb man-
ner. Yet this does bear to us on every page the clear proof
of the tropical splendor of his genius, the breadth of his great
heart, and the real depth of his spiritual life.


Washington, D. C. t June 17, 1893.



Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thy-
self. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself.
Acts xxvi, i.

I HAVE always esteemed the address which Paul made
on this occasion as a masterpiece of oratory. The man,
the subject, the occasion all conspired to make it so.


Paul has occupied no mean position, but been conspicu-
ous in the heated controversies, both religious and politi-
cal, which have agitated the nation and are yet to con-
vulse the world.

Though of logical habit he was of a fiery and impetu-
ous temperament. Naturally proceeding from argument
to blows, condemning the new religion he persecuted
those who held it. Convinced of error he endured per-
secution for the truth's sake, and his life had been full
of calamitous adventure, marvelous enterprise, and heroic
endurance. In the midst of it all he bore himself
courageously, and with a sublime self-abnegation which
never forsook him, and always made him master of the
situation. In his youth he had borne himself impetu-
ously as against opponents, humbly as against those who
doubted his sincerity.

He was now well advanced in years, but had lost none
of the vigor of intellect, or clearness of utterance, or
force of character which had heretofore made him a
formidable antagonist to caviling Jew and skeptical


philosopher. True, he is in bonds, a prisoner, yet he
does not hesitate to " stretch forth " the fettered hand,
for he realizes that " he is a freeman whom the truth
makes free." " These bonds," to which he so feelingly
alludes, are but the harmless and impotent expression of
erring human authority and power, unlawfully placed
upon his person, for he is a Roman citizen ; yet he is
conscious of a higher patent of nobility, for he is the
authorized herald and ambassador of the Sovereign of the
universe, empowered to arraign even kings and direct
their submission in all loyalty to his Sovereign. As he
warms in his discourse he even exalts himself (though
he does it in all meekness) above his judge, and says, " I
would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear
me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am,
except these bonds," and he implies with a conscious cer-
tainty of conviction that the king may soar from his throne
to the dignity of the accused man speaking before him.


He is on his defense against an accusation by his own
nation. He must attempt the delicate and difficult task
of personal vindication, and though he feels perfectly
conscious of rectitude, and knows the charge to be both
frivolous and unjust, he must make this to appear with-
out offense to the magistrate by whom he has been held
in durance. He must detail his personal history and ex-
periences, but must not allow himself to indulge in garru-
lous and self-complacent boasting, that pitfall for egotis-
tical assumption. He and his convictions, his cherished
religious hopes, his deep-seated theological opinions, are
the subject of investigation and inquiry ; he is accused
and speaks in his own defense. He stands before royalty


as a criminal, undaunted and brave. Neither the anath-
emas of his own countrymen nor the scowl of the world
could crush that spirit of his, which rose in triumph over
all. He was in chains, and yet no man more free than
he ; his spirit exulted in a liberty which no despot could
injure, no time destroy. An outcast in the world was
he, and yet its rulers trembled at the majesty of his looks
and the power of his words.


The assembly is a notable one. There is Festus,
who has entertained his appeal to Caesar ; there is Herod,
the grandson of Herod the Great, who by the favor of
Claudius Caesar has been made King of Chalcis, a man
who was at one time a zealous Jew, but who was neither
loved nor respected, because of his heathen education
and his incestuous habits ; beside him sits Bernice, at
once wife and sister, previously married to her uncle,
now the mistress of her own brother, and subsequently
married to Polemon, King of Cilicia.

There are, moreover, " the chief captains and principal
men of the city; " a most notable assembly, comprising
the financial wealth, the social influence, the political
power of the day. They are met for a purpose ; a re-
ligious zealot (for so men regard him) is to be examined
for his heretical opinions; a bold man is to speak in his
own defense ; novel ideas may be uttered. The man is
entitled to a hearing, for his appeal to Rome has been
entertained. He will be brought in fettered ; how will
he bear himself? Will he blanch and quail before the
royal presence, prove himself a braggart, or meet the
issue with calmness and dignity, defy the impotency of
human courts, and assert the dignity of manhood and


the right of free speech and of free and unfettered
thought ?

These thoughts are in the minds of those who com-
pose the assembly. They little dream of the historic im-
portance of the event ; they have no idea that while the
Roman record of the day's proceedings will perish and
disappear the world will learn of all that happens only
through the friends of the accused. How they would
have been startled had they known that a day was not
far distant when the world would have forgotten Herod
and ask inquiringly " Who was he ? " while the noblest
literature would embalm to immortality the name of
Paul, and the swelling civilization of nineteen centuries
prolong his praise !

Now they are intent only on the momentary consid-
eration of being present at a trial and listening to an


Paul begins courteously but clearly, refers to the
manner of his life from his youth, as exhibiting Jewish
scruples and devotion. He asserts that he is accused
for the " hope of Israel," which once in ignorance he de-
nounced, but being made wise by means of a heavenly
vision he accepts, and now holds to be the true intent
and meaning of the prophets. This is the occasion of
criticism and difference, out of which have come the
pending accusations.

He proceeds forcibly and honestly to arraign the king
before the tribunal of his conscience, " King Agrippa,
believest thou the prophets?" He has not been di-
verted from the main issue by the interruption of Festus,
who has declared him " beside himself," crazed by the
reading of many manuscripts. He earnestly and per-


sistently asserts that he knows that the king believes the
truth of what he says : " The king knoweth," if Festus
does not, " of these things, ... for I am persuaded that
none of these things are hidden from him." This extorts
the admission, "Almost thou persuadest me." To per-
suade is " to influence by argument, advice, entreaty, or
expostulation." Agrippa yields, the difficult task of con-
vincing anyone has been accomplished, the bigot Jew,
the incestuous king, has admitted the force of truth so
urged, and in such a presence. No greater triumph,
under the circumstances, was possible.

Paul spoke as one who had something to say instead
of as one who " had to say something." And here we
find the basal distinction between elocution and oratory.

Elocution concerns itself with how to speak, with
what graces of person and of manner, with what tones
of voice and modulations of utterance, with what appro-
priateness of position and gesticulation, " to say some-
thing," and to say it appropriately ; whether it be the
recitation of a poem or a descriptive narrative in prose,
to suit the expression to the sentiment, so that the very
naturalness of the rendering shall disarm all criticism of
artificialness and meretriciousness. That is elocution.

Oratory is " wisdom speaking." It is the utilization
of the characteristic endowment of our human nature in
directions worthy of it. Its influence is everywhere felt
and universally acknowledged, but not easily explained.
It may in part be accounted for by the influence of the
power of sound.

Sound reaches more than vision ; nothing presented to
the eye tingles the blood as do things presented to the
ear. Sound thrills in the woods at night ; in the loneli-


ness and darkness, the fall of leaves, the stir of living
creatures in the grass, a thousand nameless sounds stir
within us the feeling of mystic awe. Sight is finite, and
felt to be so ; the imagination plays more freely among
sounds, whose impressions are unshaped, and whose
power, therefore, is more abiding.

Memory and attention seem to take a deeper hold
upon things presented by sound than by sight. Light
and heat are but differing modes of the same natural
fact ; vibration and radiation are one ; radiation is silent
vibration. There is a difference of speed in the lower
form of heat ; in the rush of the red flame, radiation is pal-
pable ; but as the heat vanishes the red passes to orange,
green, purple, blue, violet ; from the " rocket's red glare "
to the azure of the sky and the deep green of the sea.
In the quieter radiation we reach the essential life. It
is because the sky is blue that our earth is not a barren,
homeless wilderness, where heat consumes the day and
cold congeals the night. This gives to us the atmos-
phere, absorbing, modifying the solar rays, and therefore
plants grow, and flowers bloom, fruits mature, and men
breathe in happiness, and toil in hope, and rest in security
and peace. This quiet vibration is higher radiation, and
illustrates how added beauty and power may be given to
nature's store of blessings ; because of it we have the ever
varying seasons, with the snow of winter, the greenness
of spring, the golden glory of summer, the purpling
beauty of autumn. The quieter vibration approaches
silence, and prepares the mind to be influenced more
powerfully by the concussion of sound.

And sound also influences as it is formulated and di-
rected. Sound addressed to the intellect sheds light
over truth, over processes of argument, over means and


methods of conviction. Intensify the action of sound
by addressing it to the conscience, and it calls up the
soul from slumber, makes it restless and unquiet. Sound
addressed to the experience bears wisdom and refresh-
ment, cools and calms the fever of the spirit, consoles
and comforts the heart. And, therefore, the Rev. Mr.
Hood was wise when, in addressing the students of Mr.
Spurgeon's training school, he spoke of speech as illus-
trated by the "lamps, pitchers, and trumpets" which
made way for the " sword of the Lord and of Gideon."

Sound, of whatever quality ; utterance, of whatever
grade, must after all be only the vehicle for something
worthy of expression. Words which have a meaning
must be marshaled in such order as to convey the exact
impression which it is desired that they shall produce.
Language should be nothing more than the garment in
which ideas are dressed ; if the clothes are awkward and
ungainly the person is hampered and not aided by them,
and the more of such trumpery we place about us the
more we are disfigured and encumbered. Sound may
be mere noise and indicate hollowness ; in such a case
speech will accomplish little but the exposure of our
ignorance and folly ; for the plumage of the peacock
can never give sweetness to the hoarse screech of the

Words with a sword behind them or a soul within
them are the most blessed means of intercourse and
most potent elements of war, for, as Max Miiller has
well said, " There can be no reason without speech, even
as also it is true there can be no speech without reason."
And it will be well to remember that Schelling has said,
" Language transcends in depth the most conscious pro-
duction of it. It is with language as with all organized


beings, we imagine they spring into being blindly, and
yet we cannot deny the intentional wisdom in the forma-
tion of every one of them."

Therefore he whose profession it is to use language in
public address, should surely attempt to use it with all
due consideration of its awful depths and powers. In
an age given to much frivolity and looseness of thought
and expression we should attempt to obtain a better
spirit and acquire dominion over mind by an earnest deal-
ing with the rights and obligations, privileges and hopes,
involved in human speech. To do this there should be
not merely the study of words and of their meanings, but
of their uses and of the varied methods of using them.

The orator, however thorough a student, must above
all things be a man ! It is the man, and not any man-
ner or information he may acquire, which lays the foun-
dation for successful public speaking. When a man
rises to speak he soon makes the impression of his mind
upon us ; he shows his mental qualifications as an orator.
By this he succeeds or fails in making us feel that he is
eloquent, and he will succeed in spite of what the elocu-
tionists call a bad manner, or he will fail though he
speaks all the parts of his discourse as he has been taught
in the schools.

Every hearer knows that a public speaker soon con-
vinces him of the speaker's power or weakness by what
he says, independently of the manner in which he says it.
He may do with his hands whatever he will ; the hearer
may not know that he has any hands ; he may shut any
number of fingers, even all of them ; project one of them
with such an arrowy or dirk-like motion as to suggest
the inquiry, "Is this a dagger which I see before me?"
thrust his hand into his bosom, or plunge it into his


pocket, or place it on his side like Punshon. The afflatus
of inspiration may appear to be on him by his pushing
back his sleeves or other ungainly sign ; his voice may
be set on a gamut of three notes with no chromatic in-
terval ; but that man may have power to interest and
sway an audience as much as human oratory can do it,
and he who does not feel that the speaker is an eloquent
man has no true susceptibility to eloquence. It is the
manhood that does it.

There are some preachers whose manner is devoid of all
attractiveness; their reading of the Holy Scriptures and
of hymns is simply execrable; as to any kind of knowl-
edge of the rules of speaking, " fair science smiled not
on their humble birth ; '* yet so great and so good a man
and accomplished an orator as Dr. Nehemiah Adams
said, " If I were to choose the preacher under whose in-
struction I should prefer to sit year after year it would
be one of those men. They subdue me ; they lead me
captive ; they make me weep ; they makeme glad, as no
other men do. I remember their wise sentiments as I
should the words of an oracle. Compared with them, a
man who assails my senses with his elocution, and is
always thrusting upon my notice his motions, his tones
of voice, making me always think of him as a good
speaker, is a man from whom I wish to flee, and of whom
I think as I do of a man whom, with all his pious tones, I
conceive to be a hypocrite."

On the other hand, a man may speak before you ac-
complished in all the rules of art ; while he recites or de-
claims an eloquent composition he may make you feel
that he is a powerful speaker ; but if he lacks manhood
he shows this lack in his own address, and not all his
external accomplishments can make you feel that he is


eloquent. If he is a preacher he may resemble a friend
of mine, who " says nothing " more eloquently than any
other man I know, but his hearers will soon be weary of
him ; they will feel, justly enough, that he tires them and
does not feed them. If he is a lawyer and thinks his
oratory will win his cases, he will find himself the butt
of bench and bar, the laughing-stock of the jury box. A
young man who thinks that because he has learned posi-
tions and gestures, and can trill his " r's," and has subdued
his voice far down into the bass clef, he will therefore be
counted eloquent, will soon find himself brought to grief
and put to shame. Men know what is eloquence and
what is pretense, though nine tenths of them can quote
no rule to show the difference. The man, independent
of his manner, will convince them that he has power
over their hearts and minds ; or, on the other hand, the
manner, however orderly and elegant, will fail to convince
them that there is much in the man besides his manner.

By manner, I mean that which a man has learned and
put on ; that is, how to stand, how to make gestures,
how to modulate his voice. Manner in speech is to be
distinguished from the "manners of a man," which are
always the true expression and exponent of the inmost
self. In "the manners" the inward sentiment of defer-
ence, love, kindness, or contempt, selfishness, and pride,
involuntarily appear. Now, as a man shows his secret
feelings in his manner, no matter what artificial disguise
he may assume, so a public speaker will involuntarily
show his heart and mind to the public discernment, let
him put on what manner of behaving or expressing him-
self before them he may.

In helping to make orators by culture we must do as
Nature does when she makes eloquent men. She makes


the man first, and his manners are the consequence or
result of what the man is. The first thing necessary is
to cultivate or to possess the ability to discern and to ex-
press truth with strength, beauty, fitness, and taste ; the
power of discerning and distinguishing what is right and
suitable in discourse this is the fundamental qualifica-

To be an orator the master of speech must not only
be a scholar, with the manners which accompany and im-
ply manhood, he must also have an artist's gift. Indeed,
his success will largely depend upon his artistic power.
All preparation, all method in fact, presupposes this. A
man may have all the natural qualifications and acquired
graces for oratory, but he will still need the care and
knowledge and study and the reverent spirit of the
artist to qualify him for his work. The arrangement
of a discourse, the arguments to be employed, the illus-
trations to be used, even the feelings to be touched and
the words to express them, are to be as carefully selected
as are the colors on an artist's palette. The prudence
and wisdom which genius uses upon its masterpieces
are to be exercised by the orator, and it savors only of
the inferior minds to disdain or to decry it.

Quintilian says: " Hacc prcecepta eloquentice cogita-
tioni sunt nccessaria " the rules of eloquence apply to
the way of thinking as well as to the way of expression.
To assume the manner of an orator without possessing
the manners which the mental qualities of the orator
necessitate is to expose one's self to ridicule. Thus
pretentious men have brought contempt and odium
upon a useful as well as ornamental branch of study,
and by assuming to possess that which they conspicu-
ously lack have made deficiency more apparent as " they


pronounced their long-tailed words with a sonorous wab-
ble of voice, calculated to produce a feeling of respectful
awe in the minds of their hearers." There is also danger
of exciting the criticism of an audience by too close at-
tention to the manner of delivery, and this can only be
avoided by being the man instead of assuming to be
thoroughly furnished and fully equipped.

Observation and reflection show us that those who
overcome the prejudices of their hearers, arising from
some untoward manner, by the immediate force of what
they say, are few; they are the geniuses of the pro-
fession, always limited in numbers, whose success is not
to be expected without labor and art. Indeed, in the
case of some to whom we attribute native genius as the

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Online LibraryOtis H. (Otis Henry) TiffanyPulpit and platform; → online text (page 1 of 17)