Words I Needed To Hear
I wonder two things a lot. Should I be doing a particular thing a particular way? And what do I need to do that I may not be doing?
I was able to take a just a few minutes this morning and listen to Richard Baxter (1615-1691) say a few things about the preacher and preaching. These words helped me in regards to both of these questions.
I might add that for any Christian, these exhortations are applicable. Here’s what Baxter wrote hundreds of years ago and I have no doubt that his words are just as relevant today.
On Hard Work
Many ministers study only to compose their sermons, and very little more, when there are so many books to be read, and so many matters that we should not be unacquainted with. Nay, in the study of our sermons we are too negligent, gathering only a few naked truths, and not considering of the most forcible expressions by which we may set them home to men’s consciences and hearts. We must study how to convince and get within men, and how to bring each truth to the quick, and not leave all this to our extemporary promptitude, uneless in cases of necessity. Certainly, brethren, experience will teach you that men are not made learned or wise without hard study and unwearied labour and experience.
The Need For Passionate Persuasion
It would make a man’s heart ache, to see a company of dead, drowsy sinners sitting under a minister, and not hear a word that is likely to quicken or awaken them. Alas! we speak so drowsily and so softly, that sleepy sinners cannot hear. The blow falls so light that hard-hearted sinners cannot feel. The most of ministers will not so much as exert their voice, and stir themselves up to earnest utterance.
The Need of Preachers Who are Alive With Truth
Can we believe that our people must be converted or condemned, and yet speak in a drowsy tone? In the name of God, brethren, labour to awaken your own hearts, before you to the pulpit, that you may be fit to awaken the hearts of sinners. Remember they must be awakened or damned, and that a sleepy preacher will hardly awaken the hearts of sinners.
The Urgency of the Content Demands an Urgent Voice
It is a kind of contempt of great things, especially of so great things, to speak of them without much affection and fervency.
Speak to your people as to men that must be awakened, either here in hell. Look around upon them with the eye of faith, and with compassion, and think inf what a state of joy or torment they must all be for ever; and then, methinks, it will make you earnest, and melt your heart to a sense of their condition.
Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures as the drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks.
The best matter (content) will scarcely move them, if it be not movingly delivered.
Let us therefore, rouse up ourselves to the work of the Lord, and speak to our people as for their lives, and save them as by violence, ‘pulling them out of the fire.’
A sermon full of mere words, how neatly soever it be composed, while it wants the light of evidence, and the life of zeal, is but an image or well-dressed carcass.
I needed to hear these words this morning from a hard-working, passionate and persuasive man.