Two Extremes to be Avoided in Preaching

Two Extremes to be Avoided in Preaching (new)

Extreme # 1: Preaching as if everyone in the congregation is saved.

Years ago I received an email from a member of a certain congregation. This person, whom I did not know personally at the time I received the email, was wondering why their pastor preached as if everyone in their church was saved. And because their pastor viewed everyone in the pews as regenerate, he did not see the need to call his congregation to self-examination. In other words, since in this preacher’s mind everyone in his local church was saved, he only delivered messages that address the believers.  In his sermons, there was no direct call for the unbelievers to repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation.

I have some problems with this kind of preaching. First of all, a preacher who preaches as if everyone in the congregation is saved has an idealistic view of a local church. The truth is there is no perfectly pure local church composed of only true believers. A visible church will always have both goats and sheep—a sad and painful reality for the ministers. And both the goats and the sheep need the gospel: the goats for their salvation; the sheep for their sanctification. Until Christ returns the congregations that we serve will remain impure (Matt. 25:31–46). Therefore, a pastor should keep in mind that as he proclaims God’s Word, there might be at least one unbeliever present during the preaching. Furthermore, a pastor, who does not see the need to call his congregation to self-examination on the basis of his assumption that everyone is saved, might create a false sense of assurance of salvation among the unbelievers.

We need to realize, too, that self-examination is not only for the unbelievers but for the believers as well. Writing to the Corinthian church, Paul says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor. 13:5). Here Paul is particularly addressing his fellow believers. That self-examination is also for the believers is seen in our “Liturgical Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper,” in which we are exhorted to examine ourselves before partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

That we may now celebrate the supper of the Lord to our comfort, it is necessary, before all things, rightly to examine ourselves….Let every one examine his heart whether he also believes this sure promise of God that all his sins are forgiven him only for the sake of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and that the complete righteousness of Christ is imputed and freely given him as his own – yea, so completely as if he himself, in his own person, had satisfied for all his sins and fulfilled all righteousness.

Here’s my point: Believers in Christ also need to examine themselves whether they truly believe in Jesus or not. And the purpose of this examination is not to make them doubt but to drive them even closer to Christ.

Extreme # 2: Preaching as if no one in the congregation is saved.

Some pastors preach as if no one in their congregations is saved (they do the exact opposite of what the previous pastors do). Or more accurately, these pastors assume that most of their hearers are unsaved and that there are only a minority among their audience who are truly saved. As a result, many members of their congregations—who are genuine believers—suffer severely from a lack of assurance of salvation. Imagine sitting under such preaching. Eventually, you (as a believer) will begin to question the genuineness of your salvation in an unhealthy way, and then fall into despair.

I remember several years ago, I met an old man who sat under this kind of preaching. This man was in his 90’s and had been a member of their congregation for over 50 years. And yet, sadly he did not know whether he was saved or not. This man went to church twice every Sunday for many years and served as an elder several times, but he had no assurance of salvation. Ironically, for this man the more you doubt the more pious you become. Thus, in his mind, doubt is a form of virtue.

Well, such thinking contradicts what Peter says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election” (2 Pet. 1:10). Here, Peter is commanding his fellow believers to make sure of their calling and election. And yes, it is possible for Christians to experience and enjoy assurance of salvation. As Canons of Dort says, “Of this preservation of the elect to salvation and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers themselves may and do obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith…” Charles Spurgeon once observed, “Many a believer lives in the cottage of doubt when he might live in the mansion of faith.”

Pastors who commit the extreme # 2 in preaching should realize the damage they do to their members, namely, they foster a spirit of doubt and despair among those who are sincerely saved.

Conclusion

How can we then avoid these two extremes in preaching? There are many ways but for the sake of time, let me just give you one, that is, be faithful to your text. Don’t just read your text and leave it. Use it. Expound it. Preach from it. And don’t force your text to say something that it does not say. As a preacher, you are to tell your congregation what your text says. Suppose your text is Romans 8:28–29: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”

Obviously this text is for the believers, so use this text to address the believers in your sermon. However, in that same sermon, (even just in a few words) you can also warn the unbelievers by saying that all things are not working together for their eternal good, because the glorious promise found in this passage is only for those who love God.

Now, if your text is Revelation 21:8, then address the unbelievers in your sermon: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” With this passage, don’t hesitate to challenge the unbelievers to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. And as you do so, in passing you can comfort and assure your fellow believers that their portion will not be in the lake of fire but in the new heaven and new earth.

Now, of course you can also preach from a passage that naturally addresses both the believers and the unbelievers. Some of the parables of Jesus do this (e.g., Wise & Foolish Builders [Matt. 7:24–27]; Wise & Foolish Virgins [Matt. 25:1–13]; and Sheep & Goats [Matt. 25:31–46]). These passages allow the pastor to address both the righteous and the wicked in his sermon in a natural and balanced way.

Nevertheless, let me issue a word of caution here for those who listen to a sermon: you cannot expect your pastor to deliver a well balanced sermon that 50% deals with the godly and 50% deals with the ungodly. Depending on the text, sometimes the message can be geared more towards the believers and sometimes more towards the unbelievers. Therefore, if you want to evaluate your pastor, do so based on his faithfulness to his text. The question should not be whether he addressed the unbelievers or not in his message, or whether he addressed the believers or not. No! Instead, did he faithfully preach and apply his text to his congregation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Preaching

Six Pieces of Advice for Preachers

In her book The Great American Sermon Survey, Lori Carrell asks a group of listeners, “If you could get one message across to all preachers in the United States, what would it be?” The answers that she gets can be grouped into six sections:Listeners’ Advice for Preachers (picture)

 

1. “Make the message relevant and meaningful” (36%).

  • “I keep hearing about pro-life issues; there is no mention of how we can show Christ’s compassion in practical ways…”
  • “We get mostly nice little talks about what we should or shouldn’t do; most are superficial and bland.”
  • “We put a lot of stock in what you say. Be sure it’s biblical and God-directed.”

2. “Improve your relationships with listeners” (17%).

  • “Be real.”
  • “Get along.”
  • “Don’t show favoritism.”
  • “Get to know us and let us know you.”
  • “Be a real person in front of your congregation.”
  • “Don’t try to appear perfect and unable to make a mistake…”
  • “It’s easier to relate to a pastor who is ‘more like everyone else’ than someone who is very reserved and aloof.”
  • “Show your human side. We all look up to you but want to know that you also share the same thoughts and feelings as us.”
  • “Know your congregation—individually and as a group.”

3. “Attend to your own spiritual life” (17%).

  • “Be a model of a deeply spiritual person.”
  • “Pray more.”
  • “Don’t neglect your family.”
  • “Check your motives.”
  • “Preachers, you need a close relationship with God to be effective.”
  • “Work on your own spiritual life. It shows.”

4. “Get your sermons organized” (15%).

  • “Preachers, know your main point so we can too.”
  • “Do your research.”
  • “Use a variety of organizational strategies.”
  • “Make the message clear, simple, interesting…”
  • “Don’t harp on a subject over and over. Make your point and go on.”
  • “Usually there is too much to digest at one sitting.”
  • “Save those other points for another sermon.”
  • “Sometimes they start off well and then get lost or off target. Many miss the mark and I wonder what the speaker is trying to say. I wonder how much they prepared.”

5. “Work on your sermon delivery” (9%).

  • “Why doesn’t he know how regular people talk? He’s just trying to show us how much smarter and more spiritual he is.”
  • “Talk on a level everyone can understand.”
  • “Don’t talk down to your congregation, but also don’t talk way over our heads.”
  • “I can read too. If you’re just going to mumble through a manuscript, make copies to hand out and skip the sermon.”

6. “We appreciate your work” (5%).

  • “Thank you.”
  • “Don’t ever quit.”
  • “You make a difference.”
Pastor Preaching Sermon

Titling Your Sermon for Maximum Impact: The Case for an Integrative Use of Titles (Part 2 of 2)

By Dr. Jim Cowman (guest blogger)Why-Every-Sermon-Needs-a-Strong-Title_1643_245x169

 

This past summer, one of the former waitresses in my favorite restaurant stopped by to attend our Sunday morning service of worship.  I had invited her to attend our service of worship ten years earlier, and now, during the time when our church family turns to shake hands and greet each other, lo and behold, there she was with her grown son.  I slowly approached her.  When she saw me, I said, “Wow, what a surprise!  By the way, Linda, what prompted you to stop in? My 10-year-old invitation perchance? To which she responded gingerly, “Well, to tell you the truth, it had nothing to do with your invitation.  I didn’t even know you were the pastor here, but when I drove by church and saw the title of the sermon, I thought… that sounds like a message meant just for me!”

How atypical, yet typical!  How many people stop in to hear a sermon after reading the sermon’s title on the marquee? Not too many.  Yet, at the same time, who wouldn’t enjoy hearing a sermon that God tailor made just for them? (Something we would all agree that only the Holy Spirit can do.)  But, come to think about it, isn’t that why most people come to hear our sermons? I think most people listen to a sermon for one purpose: They want to hear a practical and personal challenge from God that is designed to encourage them to overcome their unique struggle/sin that keeps troubling them.

Sermon titles are important for many reasons, beyond arousing interest. Yet, even still, ironically, little attention is given to the topic of titling.

In his book, How to Preach More Powerful Sermons, Homer Buerlein writes, “I was dismayed to read in some books on homiletics that titling a sermon isn’t really important. One book maintained that a good title helps create interest in the subject, but no great effort should be expended in trying to come up with a catchy one.” (Buerlein, 1984, pp.22-25)

I concur with Mr. Buerlein’s comments. I believe learning how to title a sermon well is important. In fact, a memorable title is as indispensable as a handle to luggage. Thus, I re-submit the following operating premise:

In order for a sermon title to achieve maximum impact, it needs to contain the following five elements:

  • Like an individual’s name, it needs to specifically identify the purpose of the sermon.
  • Second, it needs to serve as a descriptive summary of the content.
  • Third, it should entice the audience in a variety of ways to pay closer attention to the sermon.
  • Fourth, it must be concise, and
  • Fifth, it needs to be memorable.

 

To keep reading the article, click here.

 

Preaching

15 Pointers for Preachers

  1. Preach doctrinally. Don’t only teach Bible doctrines such as justification and sanctification in your Sunday school. Preach these doctrines also during your worship service.  preach-the-word

  2. Preach discriminatorily. Address both believers and unbelievers in your preaching. Don’t assume that everyone in your congregation is saved. But don’t think either that no one is saved.

  3. Preach applicatorily. Apply your text to your listeners. With the use of practical illustrations, help them apply your message to their daily life. Remember a sermon without an application is like a lecture. You are preaching, not lecturing.

  4. Preach clearly. Organize your thoughts. Avoid high-sounding words. Consider the children in your congregation. If you have to employ a big word (e.g. justification), explain it using simple words.

  5. Preach evangelistically. Yes, preach against sin, but don’t stop there. Preach about salvation too. If you preach the Law without the gospel, you will make your congregation despair. Further, don’t think that the gospel is only for unbelievers. Believers need it as well for their sanctification.

  6. Preach powerfully. Preach with the unction of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Paul did, “[M]y speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5).

  7. Preach prayerfully. Pray before, during, and after you preach. Humbly acknowledge that without God’s help, you can do nothing. Realize that God alone can change the hearts of your listeners.

  8. Preach expectantly. Remember nothing is impossible with God. Expect greatly that He will do wondrous things—saving sinners and sanctifying saints. Be confident that His word will not return to Him void. He can even use your worst sermon to accomplish His wonderful plan.

  9. Preach persuasively. Show that what you proclaim is God’s word. Announce, “Thus says the LORD.” Also, don’t be afraid to declare God’s truths, even if by doing so some of your hearers might be offended. You are not to please people but God.

  10. Preach passionately. Love not only preaching but also the people to whom you preach. And if you love your congregation, you will feed them with spiritually nutritious food.

  11. Preach faithfully. Be faithful to your announced text(s). Don’t just read your text, and leave it. Use it. Expound it. Preach from it.

  12. Preach seriously. Preach in this manner because the very word that you preach is sacred. The God who has called you to preach is holy. Your message is a matter of life and death, heaven and hell. Thus jokes have no place in the pulpit. Preachers are not called to be entertainers.

  13. Preach Christ-centeredly. Learn from Paul who says, “I…did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2). In the words of the Puritan preacher William Perkins (1558-1602), “preach one Christ, by Christ, to the praise of Christ.”

  14. Preach exemplarily. Live what you preach. Demonstrate holiness, not hypocrisy. Acknowledge with Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843), “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.”

  15. Preach soli Deo gloria.  Your ultimate goal in preaching is to glorify God. Never attempt to take that glory that belongs to God alone. Sing with Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915): “To God be the glory, great things He has done.”

Oh, Lord, help me to preach!

 

Preaching Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Titling Your Sermon for Maximum Impact: The Case for an Integrative Use of Titles (Part 1 of 2)

jim

Dr. Jim Cowman

By Dr. Jim Cowman (guest blogger)

 

The lowly sermon title is the most commonly undervalued and neglected part of a sermon, despite its many useful functions. Like an individual’s name, it specifically identifies the work.  It serves as a descriptive summary of the content.  And it can entice the audience in a variety of ways to hear and remember. For maximum sermon impact, a concise and memorable title is as indispensable as a handle to luggage. Contemporary preaching would do well to integrate it creatively into each sermon for optimum effect.

The Form and Use of Titles in Biblical Literature

One has to admit at the outset of this line of inquiry, that in the few places where the Bible presents a sermon, there is no obvious sermon title.  For example, Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5-7), Paul’s “Speech on Mars Hill” (Acts 17), and Peter’s “Pentecost Sermon” (Acts 2) came with no original titles.  Subsequently, common usage came to identify the speech only by where or when it was delivered so that these famous words could be easily referenced.

The books of the Bible, the next larger literary unit, were also given a minimalist title—something to identify it for referencing purposes. So the prophets, the Gospels, Peter’s and John’s epistles, James and Jude are named after the authors, while the epistles of Paul are named after their respective recipients. Fewer are the books that have a brief descriptive title: the books of Moses, Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations, Acts, and Revelation. Again, a title is a name to identify, or minimally describe a document for easy referral. There are very few examples hinting at a more significant use of title for a document: The “Book of the Law” for Deuteronomy, found and restored to its rightful place of authority over Judah in the reign of Josiah (2 Kings 22; 2 Chron. 34), and “The Book of the Covenant” for Exodus 20-23, to which the Israelites swore allegiance.

The most developed use of titles in the Bible is to be found in the naming and renaming of individuals. Name and title are both labels and designations by which a person or thing is known or called. Name is the simpler and more general term or appellation. Title is the more formal and honorary attribution.  For our purposes, the two terms will be treated synonymously. For instance, consider four people in the Bible who had their name changed to refer to the changes that would take place in their character.

  • According to Abram, “Father of One,” a new name, Abraham (“Father of Many,” Gen. 17:5), conferred upon him a descriptive characterization that was true to the promise of God and Abraham’s certain destiny.
  • Likewise, Jacob became Israel (“He Struggles with God,” Gen. 32:28);
  • Simon became Peter (“The Rock,” John 1:42);
  • Joseph became Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement,” Acts 4:36).

The two most entitled Biblical persons are the antagonist, the Devil, with some 25 titles; and the protagonist, Christ, with over 50 titles.

  • So Satan is… “The Evil one” (1 John 3:12),
  • “The Tempter (Matt. 4),
  • “The Prince of Demons” (Matt. 12:24),
  • “The Great Dragon” (Rev. 12:9),
  • “The Ancient Serpent” (Rev. 12:9),
  • “The Roaring Lion” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Notice from this sampling that these are generally negative, alarming, and repulsive; that is, they add the function of warning, or driving the audience away from what it should fear him to be.

In Christ, titles rise to the highest level of complexity and function.  Whichever title we call him, we are always doing more than affirming his identity and describing his person and work.  For example, if we meaningfully call him “The Good Shepherd,” (John 10:11, 14), it is because “we all like sheep have gone astray,” (1 Pet. 2:25) and are in need of his protective care. But we are also attracted to being like him, as under-shepherds who “tend the flock of God” that is under our care (1 Pet. 5:2).  If we describe him as “The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), it is because our anxious hearts and troubled world need the calm that only Jesus offers (John 14:27; 16:33).  But we who enjoy his peace are also drawn to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9).  In short, we call him what he is, what we believe him to be, what we trust him to be, what we need him to be to us; and we follow him in conformity to the likeness of his name.  We can comprehend better now why blind Bartimaeus included the title, “Son of David” in his plea of faith, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

The name for Christ that elevates titling to its highest pinnacle is found in Revelation 22:12: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” This is probably a form of synthetic parallelism in which each title variation is adding something to the basic title meaning:

  • “Beginning and End” affirms his eternal priority and finality over all that is temporal;
  • “Alpha and Omega” summarizes his authorship, keeping and disposing of all things:
  • “First and Last” emphasizes his meritorious elevation (ascension) over all moral creatures by way of the terrible humiliation of the cross (Phil. 2:6-11).

It is to the “First and the Last” that we are most drawn: (in Christ’s Kingdom those will be first who, for Christ’s sake, assumed the place of the last.)  In this, we follow Christ in his incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation.

In summary of the relevant Biblical teaching, then, there is not a single instance of a titled sermon.  However, there are plenty of titles in the Scriptures providing analogical evidence, at least.  So from all these usages, we can still profitably ask, “What use does the Bible make of a title?” That is, “What exactly can a divinely sanctioned title do?”

  1.  It identifies the individual bearer as an assigned name does.
  2.  It describes or characterizes the bearer as to its present or future qualities.
  3.  It confesses what the title user/hearer is trusting the title bearer to fulfill (positively); or, it repels the user from the title qualities, i.e., the works of darkness of Ephesians 5:11 (negatively).

We can summarize this more precisely by observing the first two are applicable to the title bearer, the thing being titled.  The last two concern the audience or hearers using the title:

The Biblical Uses of a Title

A. Affecting the Bearer

1. Identification by Name

2. Description of Qualities

B. Affecting the User

1. Affirmation/Confession of Qualities

2. Enticement/Conformation to Qualities

 

A couple of open-ended questions remain for further consideration.  Does this biblical usage, derive mainly from personal titles, carry over directly and fully to sermons, whether in written or oral form?  And, if the answer be yes in the whole or in the part, why does the Bible not evidence directly such title use for its sermons and documents? The two most obvious answers are not very satisfying: the lack of cultural progress in the area of oral communication; and that the issue is too peripheral to the central theme of redemption in Christ to warrant any more specific attention by the Biblical writers. This remaining element of biblical ambiguity invites corroboration for the use of titles from the secular sphere of life and work. I hope to address this matter in the context of building a case for an integrative use of titles in part two of this article.

 

____________

Rev. Dr. Jim Cowman holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. For the past 14 years he has served Lead Pastor at the Wyandotte Alliance Church in Wyandotte, Michigan. This past summer he was honored for his 27 years of service with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, having served in three C&MA churches, including a new church plant near Rugters University, (“Grace Alliance Church”). In addition to being an online adjunct Professor in Crown College’s Christian Ministry department, he has also served 12 years on the Ordaining Counsel of the Great Lakes District located in Ann Arbor, as well as the Ordaining Counsel of Bethesda Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan. He welcomes your emails/comments with regard to his article: jamescowman57@gmail.com

Preaching Sermon

Top Twelve Reasons for Writing Out Your Sermon Manuscript

By Dr. Jim Cowman (guest blogger) mss1

  1. You can actually see, while you are writing, the progressive development of each part of the sermon and can alternately bolster each one to the highest quality, coherence and effect – regardless of the order of development.
  2. Any remaining weaker or missing elements will show up distinctly, crying out for corrective attention, in an otherwise completed manuscript.
  3. You can easily continue improving the sermon – long after initial delivery – by deletion or addition as you become aware of new or better information (e.g. proof-text, winning illustrations, clarifying background).
  4. The audience’s (or supervisor’s) response, as well as your own self-evaluation, can be incorporated into your delivered manuscript as a basis for continued growth in preaching.
  5. You can preach the sermon again – in the whole or in the part – in another venue without any loss of content.  Making multiple uses of your sermon manuscripts reduces preparation time and elevates the quality of your preaching.
  6. You can internalize (assimilate) the manuscript content by reading it a few times before you preach it so that the delivery can retain your written wording in an audience-focused presentation.  Note:  The detriments of being “manuscript bound” in delivery should not be confused with the benefits of manuscript preparation.
  7. You can assimilate the manuscript and reduce it to a half a page or one page outline that contains all of the essential elements that you will need to recall so that you can leave the manuscript behind and speak more extemporaneously.
  8. Your manuscript, with all its careful wording, serves to jog the memory in and out of the pulpit about how to best word the Bible’s teaching on that subject.
  9. You will have a record of illustrations you have already used so that you can avoid repeating them to the same audience.
  10. The finality and permanence of manuscripts encourages record keeping and calendar planning to avoid duplication and to treat “the whole counsel of God.”
  11. You may want to publish your sermon manuscripts someday.
  12. The length of your manuscript will give you a close approximation of how long it will take you to deliver it.

Rev. Dr. Jim Cowman holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. For the past 14 years he has served Lead Pastor at the Wyandotte Alliance Church in Wyandotte, Michigan. This past summer he was honored for his 27 years of service with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, having served in three C&MA churches, including a new church plant near Rugters University, (“Grace Alliance Church”). In addition to being an online adjunct Professor in Crown College’s Christian Ministry department, he has also served 12 years on the Ordaining Counsel of the Great Lakes District located in Ann Arbor, as well as the Ordaining Counsel of Bethesda Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan. He welcomes your emails/comments with regard to his article: “Top Twelve Reasons for Writing Out Your Sermon Manuscript”: jamescowman57@gmail.com

Preaching Sermon

Sermon Conclusion at David Brainerd’s Funeral

When Jonathan Edwards wrote his biography of David Brainerd (1718-1747), he entitled it “An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd, Minister of the Gospel, Missionary to the Indians [Native Americans], from the Honourable Society in Scotland, for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, and Pastor of A Church of Christian Indians in New Jersey…” This long title briefly describes Brainerd, a faithful and diligent servant of Jesus Christ. At the young age of twenty nine, Brainerd died from tuberculosis in Edwards’ house. According to Edwards, a few days before Brainerd died, “though he was then so low that he could scarcely speak, he so exerted himself that he made a prayer very audibly, wherein besides praying for those present and for his own congregation, he earnestly prayed for the reviving and flourishing of religion in the world.”[1] At the funeral of Brainerd, Edwards delivered a sermon which ended with the following prayerful words:

Oh, that the things that were seen and heard in this extraordinary person, his holiness, heavenliness, labor and self-denial in life, his so remarkable devoting himself and his all, in heart and practice, to the glory of God, and the wonderful frame of mind manifested, in so steadfast a manner, under the expectation of death, and the pains and agonies that brought it on, may excite in us all, both ministers and people, a due sense of the greatness of the work we have to do in the world, the excellency and amiableness of thorough religion in experience and practice, and the blessedness of the end of such whose death finishes such a life, and the infinite value of their eternal reward, when absent from the body and present with the Lord; and effectually stir us up to endeavors that in the way of such an holy life we may at last come to so blessed an end. Amen![2]

 

Note: This post is an excerpt from my recent book Jonathan Edwards: His Doctrine of & Devotion to Prayer.


[1] Jonathan Edwards, “A Sermon Preached on the Day of the Funeral of the Rev. Mr. David Brainerd,” in The Life of David Brainerd, ed. Norman Pettit, vol. 7 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. John E. Smith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 551.

[2] Ibid., 553-54.

David Brainerd Jonathan Edwards Prayer Preaching