Preparing for the pulpit
August 31, 2013
Andrew Fuller wrote a series of "Letters to a Young Minister" in which he discoursed on the various aspects of pastoral labour, focusing on the preaching of sermons (which he distinguished in some ways from what he called "expositions"). Speaking of all preparation for the labours of the Lord's day, he expressed some sense of the gravity of the occasion:
In preparing for the pulpit, it would be well to reflect in some such manner as this: - I am expected to preach, it may be to some hundreds of people, some of whom may have come several miles to hear; and what have I to say to them? Is it for me to sit here studying a text merely to find something to say to fill up the hour? I may do this without imparting any useful instruction, without commending myself to any man's conscience, and without winning, or even aiming to win, one soul to Christ. It is possible there may be in the audience a poor miserable creature, labouring under the load of a guilty conscience. If he depart without being told how to obtain rest for his soul, what may be the consequence? Or, it may be, some stranger may be there who has never heard the way of salvation in his life. If he should depart without hearing it now, and should die before another opportunity occurs, how shall I meet him at the bar of God? Possibly some one of my constant hearers may die in the following week; and is there nothing I should wish to say to him before his departure? It may be that I myself may die before another Lord's day: this may be the last time that I shall ascend the pulpit; and have I no important testimony to leave with the people of my care? (Complete Works, 1:715-6)For those preparing for the pulpit, it would be well to reflect in some such manner as this.