Power In The Pulpit -- By: Edwards A. Park

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:13 (Feb 1847)
Article: Power In The Pulpit
Author: Edwards A. Park

Power In The Pulpit

Edwards A. Park

There are some who dislike the phrase, ‘power in the pulpit’ They think that it derogates from the honor of him who saith, “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.” The sacred Scriptures, however, attribute an efficacy to the whole word of God, and in a special degree to his gospel; why then may not we ascribe a like efficacy to this word, to this gospel, when preached, or which is the same thing, a kind of power to the pulpit? This is indeed a secondary power, one which worketh upon hearers while God worketh in them; but although subordinate to the influences of the Holy Ghost, although dependent upon them for all its success, it is still an energy, an effective instrument, or an instrumental efficiency. That absolute Sovereign who hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, hath chosen, (and who shall resist his will?) to bless such methods of preaching his word as are in themselves most wisely fitted to improve our moral nature. In the depth of our conviction that the renewal of the soul requires a direct agency of the great First Cause, we should not overlook the influence of those second causes which are also, under the Spirit’s operation, and in a subordinate way, effective in elevating the character of men.

If then there is an instrumental power in certain methods of preaching the gospel, the question arises, what are these methods, or what are the elements of this power? When we call to mind the tens of thousands of ministers who are exerting an influence Sabbath after Sabbath on hundreds of thousands of laymen; when we consider that the effectiveness of the pulpit has, in comparison with other efficiences, declined among us to an alarming extent within the last fifty years, and that an extensive religious apathy is one result of this decline; when we see that our intellectual and moral growth, our social order and even our civil freedom are under God dependent on the preacher’s instrumentality, and that the popular wants, if not the popular wish, demand a soul-reviving dispensation of the word, we feel constrained to say, that the question, what are the most efficient modes of preaching the gospel, is the great question of the present age.

Various measures of moral reform have been proposed, but we have reason to believe that the chief and radical reformation of men will be the effect of the divine word orally delivered, and accompanied with the influences of divine grace. This is a question, therefore, which concerns not the minister only, but laymen also; for as a minister ought to preach, so ought his people to hear; they are bound to encourage him in the path which he is obligated to pursue, and they should never condemn but always defend that style o...

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