The Certainty Of Success In Preaching -- By: Austin Phelps
BSac 10:39 (July 1853) p. 579
The Certainty Of Success In Preaching1
The doctrine of the sovereignty of God is commonly associated in the minds of men with repulsive topics of thought. No other doctrine so severely tasks the ingenuity of a preacher who would shield it from cavils and suspicions. Even Christian minds often assign it a place in a certain sombre group of truths in which it stands side by side with the doctrines respecting the existence of evil, and original sin, and reprobation; a group to which they turn for admonition rather than for encouragement. We are accustomed to speak of it as a rigid doctrine, a stern doctrine, a fearful doctrine, and in the simplicity of truth, it is all these. Yet, in the symmetry of truth, it is also a gentle doctrine, a benevolent doctrine, an amiable, a generous doctrine. Some aspects of it are immediately suggestive of hope, trust, love, and therefore of peace, and in hours when our vision of it is clear, of even the joy unspeakable. There is a regal magnificence in the glory which encircles it. As a central doctrine in the system of our faith, it throws its benign radiance to the utmost circumference. It moves among its kindred truths as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. The light it casts on this world’s destiny, reminds us of John’s vision of the New Jerusalem. We remember that there was no night there.
Such, in the main, is the aspect of the sovereignty of God as applied to the preaching of the Gospel. It ensures the success of preaching.
In the first place, the true theory of the sovereignty of God involves a certain resemblance between the working of God’s purpose in the preaching of the Gospel, and the working of the laws of the material world.
There are some truths which sound like truisms when they are reduced to the forms of language, and yet, in some of their legitimate applications, they strike our minds with all the force of paradox. Thus it seems needless to affirm that God rules as really, and as
BSac 10:39 (July 1853) p. 580
reasonably, and as absolutely, in the world of mind as in the world of matter. Yet this first truth of all religion involves consequences as to the preaching of the Gospel, which many a preacher is slow of heart to believe. We must infer from it that the preaching of the Gospel is linked with its results by established laws, as closely as are causes and effects in material phenomena. There is no more real disorder, no more of anomaly, no more of contingency, no less compactness of system, in the plan by which truth preached to the human mind is destined to work out its objects, than exists in the plan by which heat and cold affect...
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