This is a truly excellent book for preachers and hearers, though its main emphasis is a deep concern for preachers. The Introduction sets the basis of what follows, ‘Every time the gospel is preached, God’s mind and will are being revealed’. It lays down relevant positive and negative Biblical requirements for God-commissioned preachers, that they be male, moral, and that they do not ‘joke their way through sermons’. We are told that ‘preaching that is most biblical, Christ exalting and other-worldly will also be most contemporaneous and relevant’.
The first chapter gives a series of extracts from the excellent book, ‘The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire’ showing the eminent spirituality of those men of the 19th Century, the power of their ministries, and the use that the Holy Spirit made of ‘words in season’ to the hearers.
The second chapter on the preacher’s prayers, quotes from Thomas Boston’s book, ‘The Art of Man-Fishing’ to stress what all real preachers surely must know, ‘Christ was much in prayer, and that before he preached (Luke 9.18), follow him in this, O my soul. Thou hast much need to pray before thou preachest’.
The third chapter is on planning a sermon and one of many forceful comments is this, ‘To preach Christ from all the Scriptures is no easy task, but it is our calling, and it is what will bring our people back to church again and again’. There are interesting comments on expository and textual preaching with encouragement for textual preaching that is expository from the pattern of C.H.Spurgeon and Kenneth Macrae.
Chapter four on preparation, stresses that preaching must be expository, theological, logical, practical, solemn, and powerful. A few useful hints are given as to the preacher’s lifestyle.
The last chapter concentrates on the practice and experience of preaching as an ambassador, a herald, and a witness. In these days when ‘dressing down’ seems to be being made essential for a preacher’s relevance it is good to have a warning lest our appearance gives the impression ‘that our business is slight, shallow, and of little consequence’. There is a relevant warning on the use of humour in the pulpit.
This is a short book but it is full of relevant comment, forceful and helpful instruction, encouragement and godly application. It is most warmly recommended.
Dr. P. M. Rowell.