Beauty Works Out

"It is too much the habit to regard beauty, as mere ornamentation; as something that is added to other properties, instead of growing out of them . . . if the definition that has been given be the true one, beauty is rather an inevitable accompaniment, than a labored decoration" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 91) … [Read more...]

Asahel’s Carcass

"Many preachers in our days are like Heraclitus, who was called the dark doctor. They affect sublime notions, obscure expressions, and uncouth phrases, making plain truths difficult, and easy truths hard. 'They darken counsel with words without knowledge.' Studied expressions and  high notions in a sermon, are like Asahel's carcass in the way, that did only stop men, and make them gaze, but did no ways profit or edify them. It is better to present truth in her native plainness than to hang her ears with counterfeit pearls" (Thomas Brooks, Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks, 177). … [Read more...]

No Rock Without a Quarry

"The human mind . . . was made to receive truth into itself, and not to originate it out of itself. The human mind is recipient in nature, and not creative; it beholds truth, but it does not make it . . . The oratorical power of the preacher depends upon his recipiency; upon his contemplation of those ideas and doctrines which the Supreme Mind has communicated to the created and dependent spirit; upon his clearly beholding them, and receiving through this intuition a fund of knowledge, and of force, of which he is naturally destitute" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 76-77). … [Read more...]

The Real World Gives Traction

[A preacher's] "power lies, therefore, in that objective world of truth and of being, over against which he stands as a finite and dependent subject. In simple and common phraseology, which so often, however, contains the highest philosophic truth, man's strength is in God, and the mind's strength is in truth" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 74). … [Read more...]

A Flaying Hatred

"In the midst of all this clamor for fine writing and florid style, the preacher should be a resolute man, and dare to be a plain writer . . . This determination will affect his whole sermonizing . . . It will appear in the composition and manner, in a stripping, flaying hatred of circumlocutions, and of all unnecessary ornament. The preacher whose head is right, and whose conscience is right, will soon come to possess a love for this plainness. He will not be able to read authors who do not understand themselves. He will be impatient with a public speaker who does not distinctly know what he is saying" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 68-69). … [Read more...]

Simply Plain

"The preacher should toil after this property of style, as he would toil after virtue itself. He should constantly strive, first of all, to exhibit his thoughts plainly. Whether he shall add force to plainness, and beauty to force, are matters to be considered afterwards. Let him in the first place begin at the beginning, and do the first thing" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 67). … [Read more...]

A Plain as a Punch

"There is prodigious power in this plainness of presentation. It is the power of actual contact. A plain writer, or speaker, makes the truth and the mind impinge upon each other. When the style is plain, the mind of the hearer experiences the sensation of being touched; and this sensation is always impressive, for a man starts when he is touched" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 64). … [Read more...]

All In

"The oration, in this view, is not so much a product of the man, as it is the man himself, -- an embodiment of all his faculties and all his processes . . . The sermon is designed to produce an effect upon human character; and this, not upon its mere superficies, but its inmost principles . . . [it] aims at the whole nature of man" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 47). … [Read more...]