God's Ambassadors: Advice for Preachers
November 30, 2016
If a hundred preachers could agree on advice to be given to other ministers, it would probably be worth weighing their wisdom on the subject. This is just what the Westminster Assembly offered in a "sub-directory" on preaching within the body's larger Directory for Worship. It is there that the gathering explained that one who expects to preach needs to be a scholar, a worshipper, an orator, an apologist, a pastor and a servant.
1. A scholar
Even before he enters a pulpit, the preacher is called to be a scholar. Referring readers back to the Directory for Ordination, the assembly explained that "accordinge to the Rules of Ordination" a minister must "in some good measure" be "guifted for soe weighty a service." He is to have "skill in the originall languages & in such arts & Sciences as are hand maides to Divinity." He is to have "knowledg in the whole body of Theology, but most of all in the holy Scriptures." He is to be able to understand and to summarize scripture, to analyze and divide texts, to ensure that the truths he expounds are "contained in or grounded on that text" he preaches, and to "cheefly insist upon those doctrines which are principally intended" in the passage he addresses. Nonetheless, he is to be the kind of scholar whose teaching is "expressed in plaine termes" because he is a scholar whose work is for the benefit of others and not just for himself or his peers.
- A worshipper
- An orator
- An apologist
- A pastor
- A servant
This article is an extract and adaptation from Chad Van Dixhoorn's forthcoming book, God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly and the reform of the English pulpit, 1643-1653. Footnotes, references, and fuller discussions of this subject are found there.