Monday, December 28, 2009

Judging Preachers

I want to publicly apologize and ask for forgiveness from my preaching brothers Dean, Aaron, Kareem and Lawman for when I have been critical.

Brothers, please forgive me. Forgive me for not encouraging you more! Preach the Word! I trust the Holy Spirit who will not leave us where we are as street preachers but will change us and work on our hearts and increase our ability to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior! Forgive me when I have tried to act as the Holy Spirit... I'm a donkey.

What brought about this conviction you may ask? Who else? The Spirit using Sprugeon:

The Poor Trade of Judging Preachers

"Sometimes it is the way the preacher speaks which is hauled over the coals, and here again is a fine field for fault-hunting, for every bean has its black, and every man has his failing. I never knew a good horse which had not some odd habit or other, and I never yet saw a minister worth his salt who had not some crotchet or oddity: now, these are the bits of cheese which cavillers smell out and nibble at: this man is too slow, and another too fast; the first is too flowery, and the second is too dull. Dear me, if all God’s creatures were judged in this way, we should wring the dove’s neck for being too tame, shoot the robins for eating spiders, kill the cows for swinging their tails, and the hens for not giving us milk. When a man wants to beat a dog, he can soon find a stick; and at this rate any fool may have something to say against the best minister in England .

As to a preacher’s manner, if there be but plain speaking, none shall cavil at it because it wants polish, for if a thing is good and earnestly spoken, it cannot sound much amiss. No man should use bad language in the pulpit—and all language is bad which common people cannot make head or tail of—but godly, sober, decent, plain words none should carp at. A countryman is as warm in fustian as a king in velvet, and a truth is as comfortable in homely words as in fine speech. As to the way of dishing up the meat, hungry men leave that to the cook, only let the meat be sweet and substantial.

If hearers were better, sermons would be better. When men say they can’t hear, I recommend them to buy a horn, and remember the old saying, “There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear.” When young speakers get down-hearted because of hard, unkind remarks, I generally tell them of the old man and his boy and his ass, and what came of trying to please everybody. No piper ever suited all ears. Where whims and fancies sit in the seat of judgment, a man’s opinion is only so much wind, therefore take no more notice of it than of the wind whistling through a keyhole.

I have heard men find fault with a discourse for what was not in it; no matter how well the subject in hand was brought out, there was another subject about which nothing was said, and so all was wrong; which is as reasonable as finding fault with my ploughing because it does not dibble the holes for the beans, or abusing a good corn-field because there are no turnips in it. Does any man look for every truth in one sermon? As well look for every dish at one meal, and rail at a joint of beef because there are neither bacon, nor veal, nor green peas, nor parsnips on the table. Suppose a sermon is not full of comfort to the saint, yet if it warn the sinner, shall we despise it? A handsaw would be a poor tool to shave with, shall we therefore throw it away? Where is the use of always trying to hunt out faults? I hate to see a man with a fine nose smelling about for things to rail at like a rat-catcher’s dog sniffing at rat holes. By all means let us down with error, root and branch, but do let us save our billhooks till there are brambles to chop, and not fall foul of our own mercies.

Judging preachers is a poor trade, for it pays neither party concerned in it. At a ploughing match they do give a prize to the best of us; but these judges of preaching are precious slow to give anything even to those whom they profess to think so much of. They pay in praise, but give no pudding. They get the gospel for nothing, and if they do not grumble, think that they have made an abundant return.

Everybody thinks himself a judge of a sermon, but nine out of ten might as well pretend to weigh the moon. I believe that, at bottom, most people think it an uncommonly easy thing to preach, and that they could do it amazingly well themselves. Every donkey thinks itself worthy to stand with the king’s horses; every girl thinks she could keep house better than her mother; but thoughts are not facts; for the sprat thought itself a herring, but the fisherman knew better.

I dare say those who can whistle fancy that they can plough; but there’s more than whistling in a good ploughman, and so let me tell you there’s more in good preaching than taking a text, and saying, firstly, secondly, and thirdly. I try my hand at preaching myself, and in my poor way I find it no very easy thing to give the folks something worth hearing; and if the fine critics, who reckon us up on their thumbs, would but try their own hands at it, they might be a little more quiet. Dogs, however, always will bark, and what is worse, some of them will bite too; but let decent people do all they can, if not to muzzle them, yet to prevent them doing any great mischief."

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