The Three Fundamental Methods Of Preaching. — The Public Reading Of Sermons, And The Preaching Of Them Memoriter -- By: Edwards A. Park

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:113 (Jan 1872)
Article: The Three Fundamental Methods Of Preaching. — The Public Reading Of Sermons, And The Preaching Of Them Memoriter
Author: Edwards A. Park


The Three Fundamental Methods Of Preaching. — The Public
Reading Of Sermons, And The Preaching Of Them Memoriter

Edwards A. Park.

[Continued from Vol. xxviii. p. 739.]

§ 3. The Reading Of Sermons In The Pulpit

The plan of elaborate writing, as recommended in a preceding Section,1 implies that the majority of a preacher’s discourses should be delivered extempore. Comparatively few of his sermons will be written. The fact that these are written, however, does not necessarily imply that they are to be read. Not all of them should be. In one of his familiar conversations Mr. Choate remarked: “There is an anecdote of Hamilton, illustrating what I have said of the value of writing as a preparative, in respect to full and deep thought. Hamilton made the greatest argument ever uttered in this country. It was on the law of libel, and by it he stamped upon the mind of this country the principle that in an action for libel the truth, if uttered without malice, was a justification. Upon the night previous to the argument he wrote out every word of it; then he tore it up. He was by writing fully prepared; it lay very fully in his mind; and, not to be cramped and fettered by a precise verbal exactness, he tore it to pieces. Then he spoke and conquered.”2 Several ministers of the gospel have adopted a similar course with their written sermons. They acted on the theory that all their words in the pulpit should be spoken rather than read. Does this theory admit no exceptions?

I. The reading of an entire sermon, or of parts of a sermon, in the pulpit should not be indiscriminately condemned.

1. The prospect of preaching an entire discourse from manuscript is an incentive to the careful writing of it. The plan of repeating it memoriter, or of giving it to the press, may be an equal incentive, but in our country, at least, is not so common. On this topic we will assume, for the sake of convenience, that the minister intends to make the most of himself in every sermon which he writes — to task upon it his intellectual and moral powers.3 His strength comes from his effort to do justice to a great truth. This effort is expended in selecting the best thoughts, arranging them in the best method, and expressing them in the best words. If he expect to utter these words and thoughts as they are adjusted in his study, he will labor to have them just what they should be. If he expect to utter only the substance, and not the words of what he writes, he will defer the perfecting of it until he fe...

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