The Structure Of A Sermon —The Text -- By: Edwards A. Park

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 030:119 (Jul 1873)
Article: The Structure Of A Sermon —The Text
Author: Edwards A. Park


The Structure Of A Sermon —The Text

Prof. Edwards A. Park

§ 1 Definitions Of The Words, “Sermon,” “Preach,” “Text.”

A sermon is “specifically a discourse delivered in public, usually by a clergyman, for the purpose of religious instruction, and grounded on some text or passage of scripture.”1 To preach is “to pronounce a public discourse on a religious subject, or from a text of scripture; to deliver a sermon.”2 Dr. Wayland says: “When we preach we always take, ostensibly as the basis of our discourse, some passage of the word of God. This is called a text; and without it, our communication may be an oration, a speech, a lecture, or an essay, but it is never called a sermon.”3 We cannot say that a speech without a text is never called a sermon; for the word “sermon,” is often used in other senses than the technical, and denotes not only any kind of religious or even serious, but also any kind of dull, remark. So the word “preach” is not uniformly employed with its distinctive meaning, but is applied to various forms of address, even to any style of conversation which is particularly stupid. The specific sense of the term, however, is well understood. When we say that Edward Everett was once a preacher, that Whitefield “preached more than eighteen thousand sermons,” 4 it is supposed at once that the specified individuals delivered discourses on texts of the Bible. In the present series of Homiletical Essays the words “preach,” “preacher,” “sermon,” will

be ordinarily used in their technical sense, and an address not introduced by a passage of Holy Writ will be regarded as a speech, discourse, oration, lecture, essay, or something other than a sermon. The statue of President Jackson on one of our American frigates was called the figure-head, after the head of the statue had been clandestinely sawed away. We read narratives of a headless man, and of a bird without wings. When, however, the occasion of our speaking does not qualify the meaning of our terms, we are understood to speak of objects in their normal, rather than their abnormal state.

The word “text” is used by writers on Homiletics in a strict sense. It “is technically applied to any passage quoted from the text of scripture as a subject of discourse or sermon.”5

“How oft when Paul has served us with a text,

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