“And I, if I be lifted upfrom the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Christ preached his own truth, and the common people heard him gladly, and the multitude flocked to listen to him. My good ministering brother, have you got an empty church? Do you want to fill it? I will give you a good recipe, and if you will follow it, you will, in all probability, have your chapel full to the doors. Burn all your manuscripts, that is number one. Give up your notes, that is number two. Read your Bible and preach it as you find it in the simplicity of its language. And give up all your latinized English. Begin to tell the people what you have felt in your own heart, and beseech the Holy Spirit to make your heart as hot as a furnace for zeal. Then go out and talk to the people. Speak to them like their brother. Be a man amongst men. Tell them what you have felt and what you know, and tell them heartily with a good, bold face; and, my dear friend, I do not care who you are, you will get a congregation. But if you say, “Now, to get a congregation, I must buy an organ.” That will not serve you a bit. “But we must have a good choir.” I would not care to have a congregation that comes through a good choir. “No,” says another, “but really I must alter my style of preaching a little.” My dear friend, it is not the style of preaching, it is the style of feeling. People sometimes begin to mimic other preachers, because they are successful. Why, the worst preachers are those who mimic others, whom they look upon as standards. Preach naturally. Preach out of your hearts just what you feel to be true, and the old soul-stirring words of the gospel will soon draw a congregation.
For meditation: Are we brave enough to do it? We ought not to expect the world to be attracted to Christ when we obscure him by our reliance on gimmicks and by being second-rate mimics of things they can find done better elsewhere. But the unbeliever cannot find the true Gospel and a crucified Christ anywhere else!
Sermon no. 139
5 July (1857)