Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,
One of the outstanding messages from the NCFIC “Worship of God” conference included some observations by Joel Beeke about Puritan preaching. I found two to be especially inspiring and helpful:
1. They detested “exposing their learning.”
Most of the Puritan preachers were very learned men. Reading them and gaining a sense of what they themselves had read is very humbling. It isn’t a stretch to say that modern preachers pale by comparison as a whole. But well-studied as they were, and hard as they worked in preparation for preaching, Puritan preachers labored to speak plainly and directly. They worked to pierce the heart, as well as to enlighten the mind. They wanted power in their preaching, not polish or flourish. They wanted to be faithful to the text and to be thoroughly understood, not to be thought smart. Every preacher should aspire to this.
2. They preached that the natural man was sinning with every tick of the clock.
Puritan preachers pressed on their hearers that every person was created by God for His glory, and so every second living for self and unreconciled with God was an utterly sinful second. This allowed them to lift up the remedy – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – in a beautiful and unparalleled way. It helped them to batter down the walls of self-satisfaction erected by those outside of Christ who needed to be convinced of their desperate need to fly to the cross for mercy.
Preachers of the gospel, join with me in aspiring to follow our Puritan forefathers by preaching to the heart as well as the mind, and by pressing the sinfulness of the unrepentant state on our hearers. These hearers will be better served as we do.