“Preach the Word.”
2 Tim. 4:2
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
1 Cor. 1:21
Order of Contents
Askew, Egeon – ‘An Apology, of the Use of Fathers & Secular Learning in Sermons’ in Brotherly Reconcilement: Preached in Oxford for the Union of some, and now published with larger meditations for the unity of all in this Church and Commonwealth (London: 1605), pp. 257-353
Askew was a reformed Anglican.
Vossius, Gerhard Johann – ‘On the Definition of Rhetoric & Its Three Types’ in Elementa Rhetorica (Cellis, 1662) tr. Michael Lynch
Vossius (1577-1649) was a Dutch classical scholar and Arminian.
Dabney, Robert – ‘The Public Preaching of Women’ (1879) from The Southern Presbyterian Review for October
The argument against women preaching
Wenzel, Siegfried – The Art of Preaching: Five Medieval Texts & Translations (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2013)
“In preaching they differ from the Brownists and us, and join with the Popish Monks; they will not be tyed to a Text of Scripture, for the ground of their discourse, but will be at liberty to run out on whatsoever matter they think most fit and expe∣dient for their hearers.”
How to Preach
Beeke, Joel – How to Evaluate Sermons Buy 48 pp.
This is the best guide for evaluating sermons that this webmaster has come across. It is filled with practical, experimental and spiritual religion. As such it will be a great help in assessing the characteristics of a finished sermon, and hence also, to some extent, how to prepare them, and what to be looking for in preparing them.
Wilkins, John – On Books of the Bible in Ecclesiastes, or, A Discourse Concerning the Gift of Preaching as it Falls under the Rules of Art, showing the Most Proper Rules & Directions for Method, Invention, Books [&] Expression, whereby a Minister may be Furnished with such Abilities as may make him a Workman that Needs not to be Ashamed: Very Seasonable for these Times… 3rd ed. (London, 1651)
Wilkins (1614-1672) was an Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher and author, and was one of the founders of the Royal Society. He was Bishop of Chester from 1668 until his death.
This work was a standard English reference in its own day; it also contains excellent theological bibliographies on many of the main and particular loci in theology, interpretation, Church history, etc.
Dabney, Robert – Sacred Rhetoric: A Course of Lectures on Preaching Buy (1870) 361 pp. Southern presbyterian
A classic textbook on preaching, specifically on how to prepare, build and deliver sermons.
The Best Advice on Preaching
John Livingstone 1603-1672
‘Remarks on Preaching and Praying in Public by John Livingstone’, in Scottish Puritans: Select Biographies, vol. 1
“It is most probable that no gift, no pains a man takes to fit himself for preaching, shall ever do good to the people or himself, except a man labor to have and keep his heart in a spiritual condition before God, depending on Him always for furniture and the blessing. Earnest faith and prayer, a single aim at the glory of God, and good of people, a sanctified heart and carriage, shall avail much for right preaching. There is sometime somewhat in preaching that cannot be ascribed either to the matter or expression, and cannot be described what it is, or from whence it comes, but with a sweet violence, it pierces into the heart and affections, and comes immediately from the Lord. But if there be any way to attain to any such thing, it is by a heavenly disposition of the speaker.”
“The light of nature, which is a spark of the will of God, has taught many useful rules even to pagans, anent the right way of making solemn speeches before others, the most of which are to be applied to preaching with due discretion; so that what is thought unseemly in the one is to be avoided in the other. But the best rules are taken from the preachings of Christ, of the apostles and prophets.”
Alexander Whyte †1921
Bunyan Characters (Third Series), Ch. 19, Mr. Wet-Eyes, pp. 157-58 HT: Andrew Myers
“Spiritual preaching; real face to face, inward, verifiable, experimental, spiritual preaching; preaching to a heart in the agony of its sanctification; preaching to men whose whole life is given over to making them a new heart — that kind of preaching is scarcely ever heard in our day.
There is great intellectual ability in the pulpit of our day, great scholarship, great eloquence, and great earnestness, but spiritual preaching, preaching to the spirit — ‘wet-eyed’ preaching — is a lost art.”
How to Include the Children in Your Preaching
“When I preach, I sink myself deep down. I regard neither doctors nor magistrates, of whom are here in this church above forty; but I have an eye to the multitude of young people, children, and servants, of whom are more than two thousand.
I preach to those, directing myself to them that have need thereof. Will not the rest hear me? The door stands open unto them; they may be gone.”
Preface to The Child’s Preacher: a Series of Addresses to the Young (1857)
“One important object of the present volume is to furnish practical hints, which may serve to encourage young ministers, and others who imagine it a difficult thing to preach to children, to make the attempt more frequently. It will be found that the variety of texts and subjects which may be adapted to children’s capacities is almost endless.
The great requisites, in order to interest children, are  plainness of speech and  fertility of illustration.
When these are employed, low and silly expressions are worse than useless, and trifling thoughts and foolish imaginations are a positive offense. It is perfectly practicable to adapt every essential, or strictly important religious topic, not only to the capacity, but even to the tastes of children; yea, to interest them deeply in such subjects, and at the same time to preserve dignity of expression and purity of thought.
How vastly important, therefore, is it for every minister to qualify himself for, and to habituate himself to, preaching the Gospel to children.”
L. Barrington, Preface to The Child’s Preacher, or the Gospel Taught to Children in Very Simple Language (1850)
“To speak to them [the young] in language that requires a strained attention soon wearies; to excite attention, and give them an interest in what they already know, is not difficult, when we adapt our language to their capacity. To do this was the author’s object, that they might enter the house of God with joy and quit it with regret, rather than run from it as from a prison.
…the elementary truths of the Gospel are within the grasp of very young minds; the histories of the Bible are full of interest to them: why should we fail of arresting their attention?…”
Contra Lay Preaching in Ordinary Circumstances
A Peaceable & Temperate Plea… (London, 1642), ch. 20, Whether or not the government of the Church of Scotland can be proved by God’s Word to be lawful?
“Article 13, Private Worship
None may preach the Word with us but pastors and the sons of the prophets, and such of their sort who aim at the holy ministry, and that authority Ecclesiastical must warrant them is clear by our Law and practice, as it was in the Jewish Church, 1 Sam. 10:5; 2 Kings 2:7; 2 Kings 4:1; 1 Kings 20:35.
Our Assembly also commands godly conference at all occasional meetings, or as God’s providence shall dispose, as the Word of God commands, Heb. 3:13; 1 Thess. 5:11,12; Lev. 19:17; Zech. 8:21; Mal. 3:16; Col. 3:16, providing none invade the pastor’s office to preach the word who are not called thereunto by God and his Church, Heb. 5:4,5; Rom. 10:14-15; 1 Cor. 12:28,29.”
‘Lay Preaching’ (1876) 19 pp.
Lay persons are those who are not ordained ministers. This article is largely a critique of the popular Dwight L. Moody’s advocation of, and arguments for, lay-preaching, with its attendant man-centered methods
Rutherford’s Distinctions regarding Lay-Preaching
The Due Right of Presbyteries… (London, 1644), pt. 2, ch. 5, section 1 & 2, pp. 272-73
“1st Distinction. There is one power of public preaching in a Church not constitute[d], and another in a Church constitute[d]; gifted persons in extraordinary cases, where a Church is not planted, may publicly preach, but the case is otherwise in a Church constituted.
2. Pastors, not only as gifted men, but as pastors, are called of God for the conversion of souls, and the visible Church is Christ’s visible kingdom and visible society to make persons members of the invisible Church of the firstborn.
3. Public preaching, as it is the ordinary mean of saving such as believe, is proper and peculiar to the Church, both subjectively, as being only in the Church, and objectively as being only exercised on the Church members, per se, but upon pagans by accident.
4. There is a call to an habitual and ordinary prophesying; here is required not only a calling by gifts, but also a collation of authority to the office, either immediately by God, or mediately by the Church; and there is a call to some particular or occasional acts of exhorting, as the martyrs and Stephen are called to give consession of their faith, and a king in battle, to exhort his army, or a prince his subjects to piety; and to this latter there is no other call required but the place and profession of the exhorter, though he be not by office a pastor.
5. There is a formal calling of the Church, as the laying on of the hands of the elders, and a virtual and interpretative calling, or tacit approbation of the Church, when learned men of eminent gifts, not in office, do write commentaries, sermons on canonic Scriptures, and tractates refuting heresies; to this the tacit approbation of the Church is required, but these have not ordinary pastoral care, nor are they the ordinary converters of souls to Christ, as the pretended prophets of Separatists are.
6. Gifted Christians may occasionally admonish, warn, rebuke and exhort one another:
1. privately, 2. without any pastoral care of souls as they are a Church, but only as they occasionally converse with them; 3. Excommuni officio charitatis [with respect to an excommunicated person by the office of charity], by the Law of nature, charity tying one member to help another, 4. Not authoritatively by special office; but all authority here is from the Word occasionally spoken.
The pastor is to preach:
1. publicly; 2. to the Church as the Church. 3. with a pastoral obligation to all alike, whether he converse daily with them or not. 4. Not only by the tie of common charity, but by a virtue of a special office. 5. With authority both objective from the Word and official from his charge. 6. And is obliged to separate himself for this charge allanerly, as a watchman who must give an account in a special manner to Jesus Christ.”
That Preaching is an Act of Governing
A Peaceable & Temperate Plea… (London, 1642), ch. 19, p. 285
“4. By this wild interpretation [of 1 Tim. 5:17 by prelates] men may be [Greek] well-governing pastors, who labor not in the Word and doctrine, and so the dumb [non-preaching] prelates, who hold it all one to be damned to a pulpit, and to a man-mill, shall be pastors worthy of double honor.
Now Paul will not say this of a right bishop, 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:9, because good governing in a pastor includes laboring in the Word and doctrine, as the whole includes the part: For preaching is a special act of overseeing and well-governing of souls, Jer. 1:10; 2 Tim: 4:2. Because the Word is the instrument of pastoral governing, how can pastors rule well by using aright the Word of God, except they labor in the Word, which is the shepherd’s staff: of right governing and painful preaching, Heb. 13:17; Acts 20:28-31.”
“Neither are they [Independents] cleared from the blot of schism by their countenancing the English [Church] assemblies, by their preaching and praying therein: for beside that they do no more in this than Mr. [John] Robinson has taught them;
They should remember they teach their scholars that preaching, prayer, psalms, and all things they do in the English congregation, are no acts of Church fellowship: that none of them does import any Church membership, nor any ecclesiastic communion: but are such which without scruple they can dispense to very pagans.”
“But an inch of time remains, and then eternal ages roll on for ever — but an inch on which we can stand and preach the way of salvation to a perishing world.”
Robert M. M’Cheyne
“You think we are too earnest with you to leave your sins and accept of Christ; but when you come to die you will see the meaning of it. We see death at your backs.”