Let your speech [in preaching] be plain, as Paul’s was. “Not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power.”2 Use sound words “that cannot be condemned.”3
Rhetorical flourishes are like painted glass in a window that makes a great show but darkens the light,4 as some schoolmasters will flourish letters so much as few know what they are but themselves. To have more rhetoric in a discourse than logic is commendable. What doth it signify to have a dish daintily set off about the brims, if no meat be in it? Be sure you always speak plain to the capacity of the people. Let us never speak words we do not understand ourselves, nor they which hear us. The prophets and apostles generally spoke in the vulgar and common languages which the ordinary people understand. They did not speak to the understanding of a king upon the throne, but to the understanding of the meanest5 subject.
1 From The Temple Repair'd, 28.
2 1 Corinthians 2:4.
3 Titus 2:8.
4 This is a very revealing comment about Baptist - Puritan - preferences when it came to church architecture. Unlike the Anglican church that were often adorned with stain glass windows, the Puritans and their Dissenting children preferred windows with plain glass. The latter admitted for more light, making it easier to read one's Bible and follow the preacher as the Word was expounded.
5 That is, the lowest, or by implication, the most uneducated.
Preaching “the whole counsel of God”1
By Hercules Collins, 1702
Entertain your hearers with variety of subjects, seeing God’s Word affords variety. Though in some sense I cannot preach Christ too much, yet if I preach so as to neglect the preaching up of duty, I leave undone a great part of the work committed to my charge. Though it is our duty to preach Christ crucified the object of a justifying faith, yet this must not be done in the neglect of preaching up other duties, especially the great doctrine of repentance, which was one of the first doctrines John the Baptist preached,2 and one of the first which Christ preached,3 and is the first mentioned of the six principles of the doctrine of Christ in the sixth chapter of Hebrews.4
Moreover, we find Christ and his apostles preached the doctrine of mortification and obedience to the commands of God and divine virtues as “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, . . . meekness, temperance,” patience, knowledge, godliness, brotherly-kindness, charity.5 This was Paul’s comfort in his last days, that he was clear from the blood of all men, for he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.6
1 From The Temple Repair'd, 33.
2 See Matthew 3:1-12.
3 See Matthew 4:17.
4 See Hebrews 6:1.
5 Galatians 5:22-23 and see 2 Peter 1:5-7.
6 See Acts 20:26-27.
[From Michael Haykin & Steve Weaver, editors, Devoted to the Service of the Temple, 2007, pp. 101-2. The second essay, pp. 105-6. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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