The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY'S
1. Reading an essay is not preaching.
2. Reading a sermon is not preaching.
3. The Bible meaning is that of oral instruction, as distinguished from written. ("Kerusso").
4. At present I pass over this, and remark upon pulpit instruction, whether by reading or extempore.(1) Be quite distinct in announcing your text.
(2) Name and read it twice, and speak to the most remote.
(3) Speak so loud as to be sure that you fill the house.
(4) Watch your articulation, and see that it is quite distinct.
(5) Beware of nasal speaking and avoid it.
(6) Mark, and well adjust the pitch or key of your voice.
(7) Be careful to start right in these respects, and avoid embarrassment in yourself and hearers.
(8) Be sure that you read your text aright.
(9) Also, that you understand it.
(10) Read it deliberately, solemnly, emphatically.
(11) Beware of unnecessary criticism. (Dr. Cox).
(12) Also of all pedantry in preaching.
(13) Be entirely self-possessed, but not careless in manner.
(14) Be full of your subject and empty of yourself.
(15) If full of your subject, you can't conceal it.
(16) If empty of self, you will be unembarrassed.
(17) If empty of self, you will and can attend to your subject.
(18) If full of self, you cannot extemporize.
(20) Also, you cannot read well.
(21) Your devotional exercises will be a failure.
(22) So also will be your preaching. (Smith of Cleveland).
(23) Stand up straight, but do not strut.
(24) Beware of every appearance of vanity: Of your person, looks, learning, writing, speaking, attitude, gestures, voice, language, pronunciation.
(25) Beware of all affectation in the pulpit.
(26) Hide self behind your subject.
(27) This you will naturally do if your heart is right.
(28) Don't begin upon a key that you can't sustain.
(29) Don't bluster, vociferate, or rave. Begin calmly.
(30) State and explain your positions calmly, but not carelessly; earnestly, but not vociferously.
(31) Sustain them with energy, so as to sustain attention.
(32) Don't drop your voice too low to be heard at any time. This is a common, serious fault.
(33) Watch to see whether you are understood.
(34) If not, repeat more distinctly and emphatically.
(35) Use plain language, short words, words in common use, short sentences.
(36) Be conversational in style and manner.
(37) Don't divert attention by manner from matter.
(38) Nor by flowers of rhetorical ornament.
(39) Nor by far-fetched, or ornamental illustrations.
(40) Avoid any appearance of a want of candor.
(41) Be fair-minded in argument.
(42) Be not dogmatical or assertatory.
(43) Be sure to have and manifest a good spirit.
(44) Be direct. Preach to and not about people.
(45) Make the impression that you mean them.
(46) Be kind but plain, direct, pungent.
(47) Be earnest and you will gesture naturally.
(48) Also enough -- not too much, in the right place.
(49) Be earnest, and your looks, tones, attitudes, gestures, tears, and every muscle, will teach.
(50) Illustrate thoroughly and beware of the fallacy that "illustration is not argument."
(51) Illustrate from the employments and habits of your hearers as far as possible.
(52) Don't mouth your sermon, and preach in lofty tones such as would be ridiculous and disgusting in conversation. (White of Philadelphia).
(53) Aim at entire perspicuity.
(54) Understand its conditions and fulfill them.
(55) Don't use a word unintelligible to them.
(56) Study the greatest simplicity of language.
(57) Speak so that your language will not be thought of.
(58) Also, your gestures, attitudes, tones, etc.
(59) If all is natural, your thought will stand revealed, and the medium will not be thought of.
(60) The most persuasive oratory leaves no impression but that of the thoughts presented.
(61) Everything noticed and remembered in respect to language, manner, voice, attitude, gesture, illustration, delivery, abates the effect of your sermon.
(62) What keeps you instead of your subject in the thoughts of the people is a fault in preaching.
(63) Remember always whom you represent in preaching, and so speak as to keep this fact in the minds of the people.
(64) This constantly pursued thought will much modify your manner of preaching and theirs of hearing.
(65) Don't preach longer than you can hold attention.
(66) Keep the thought prominent that you are teaching to secure present and prompt action.
(67) Endeavor to secure decision on the spot.
(68) Stop in the right place, and don't run emptyings.
5. Arguments in favor of reading sermons as a manner of preaching -- manner is of great importance.(1) Few can preach extemporaneously. Answer: This is due to habit.
(2) Reading avoids embarrassment. Ans.: Be crucified to reputation, and full of the Holy Spirit and of your subject and the love of God and of souls and you will not be embarrassed.
(3) Written sermons have more thought. Ans.:a. Whose sermons?
b. Many of them have but little thought.
c. This will depend on habits of study.
d. If you get the habit of studying only when you write, this will be true.
e. If you study and think on your feet, and let your voice stimulate thought, the reverse will be true.
(4) Written sermons more condensed and less repetitious.a. For the average mind, this is often a fault.
b. This depends on study.
(5) Can write in a better style. Ans.:a. What is intended? The end is to instruct and secure obedience to God; not secured by a written style.
b. Conditions of impressing by instruction are:(a) Attention.
(d) A colloquial style best suited to these ends.
(e) Familiar illustrations.
(g) Simplicity of language.
(i) Freshness of thought.
(j) Sense of dependence on divine illumination.
(l) Prayerful state of mind.
(m) With this state of mind, you will speak to a present audience more effectually, than you will write in your study, if not spoiled by habit.
(6) Dare not trust myself. Ans.:a. This you should never do, but this you will do if you write.
b. You may always have divine help.
(7) Can better interest and instruct the cultivated. Ans.:This is a mistake, as I have had perpetual proof.
(8) Writers of sermons wear better than others. Ans.:Then it must be because they study and think more.
(9) That is just what they are obliged to do.a. But writing is not studying.
b. Writing really interferes with close study.
c. The best thinkers think and dictate to amanuensis.
d. Those who have tried it testify that they think and compose better, not writing.
e. Spelling, writing, capitalizing, dipping the pen, punctuation, adjusting leaves, and the whole process of writing, necessarily occupies a part of the attention, and distracts from the force, logic, power, consistency, and efficiency of thought and of style.
(10) Writers of sermons can preserve their labors. Ans.:a. Yes, but they preach over their old sermons without rewriting. They stultify themselves.
b. A full skeleton will preserve all that is worth preserving, and skeletons are easily rewritten or altered, and improved.
(11) The educated classes demand written sermons. Ans.:a. Not of men who are thinkers.
b. The more cultivated, the less are they pleased with literary sermons.
(12) Writing sermons cultivates a good style of writing. [Ans.:]a. This is not a pastor's business.
b. Write, but not for the pulpit.
(13) None but written sermons would take well in cities. Ans.: This is contrary to all experience.
(14) My education has not prepared me to preach without writing. Ans.:a. This is a great error.
b. You may still overcome this defect.
c. Decide that you will.
d. Practice in conference.
e. Preach in school houses and by-places without notes. (As Matson, and Father Nash after he was 55 I think).
(15) Can repeat written sermons frequently. Ans.: True, but this proves that they make less impression.
(16) Can use written sermons in case of removal. Ans.:a. But will they be suited to your people?
b. This ought not to be done to much extent.
c. Skeletons are better, because easily changed.
6. Objections to written sermons.(1) Few can write in a good style for reading.
(2) There are few who read a sermon well.
(3) The best writing is writing, not speaking.
(4) The reading is reading still.
(5) Written sermons are often too condensed.
(6) Their language is often too elevated.
(7) Not so intelligible as talk.
(8) To short to be effective.
(9) Not repetitious enough.
(10) Not illustrated by facts.
(11) Not generally so interesting.
(12) Churches prefer the unwritten talks of ministers.
(13) Writers learn to think with pen in hand only.
(14) It cultivates an essay or book style.
(15) It limits study to a confined apartment.
(16) It is too confining.
(17) Too laborious.
(18) Necessitates either lack of excitement, and consequent dullness, or excitement too long continued.
(19) Also, either poor sermons, or little parochial labor.
(20) Or, a pastor's health must soon fail.
(21) The masses cannot be attracted by even the best written sermons.
7. Preaching memoriter.(1) Writing and committing to memory nearly universal in England.
(2) It requires great labor.
(3) It overloads and confines the memory.
(4) Begets a school-boy delivery.
(5) Prevents attention to the audience.
(6) If anything interrupts, it confuses the speaker and may break him down.
(7) It prevents appreciation of, and adaptation to, any change in the state of the audience.
(8) It is a snare, and renders it necessary to have everything committed to memory.
(9) The delivery and gesticulation is stiff and studied.
(10) It is declamation.
(11) It is often a hypocritical attempt to make the audience believe it to be extempore.
(12) It has all the faults of a written sermon.
(13) The delivery not more telling.
(14) The people demand preaching, not reading or reciting.
(15) The ministers treat them to declamation.
8. Partly written sermons.(1) This saves labor in writing.
(2) Leaves you room to fill up, at discretion.
(3) Gives play to your own thinking under excitement of speaking, the inspiration of the occasion, and of the Holy Spirit.
(4) The writing may be only a full skeleton, simply noting the propositions to be established, and the consequent inferences and remarks.
(5) Or, it may fill out the argument more or less fully.
(6) This is a good way to preach, if you leave room enough for extemporizing.
(7) If enough is left to be filled out to render you very dependent upon the light and teaching of the Holy Spirit.
(8) Or, you may leave a wide margin, on which you may write a full skeleton, and write out your sermon in full.
(9) In preaching, use more or less of your writing.
(10) This doesn't leave you dependent enough.
(11) It cost too much time and labor.
(12) It does not give time enough for prayer.
(13) It does not necessitate dependence on divine teaching at the time.
(14) I don't like any method consistent with a cold, backslidden heart.
(15) Men filled with the Spirit seldom need to write sermons.
9. Extempore preaching, without premeditation or study.(1) This is a kind of inspiration, and may be partly the inspiration of genius, partly of the occasion and audience, partly of one's own feelings, partly of the Holy Spirit, or all of these; or also, the inspiration of Satan or fanaticism.
(2) One may depend on this if he is obliged to do so. I have often been shut up to this.
(3) I have never failed on such occasions.
(4) Have often preached in this way with the greatest power and success.
(5) When preaching thus, your whole being preaches. Everything is most natural and forcible.
(6) In this sense, you cannot extemporize without inspiration of some kind.
(7) If you neglect study when you might have studied, you may not expect divine inspiration. But inspiration is not obsolete.
(8) I suppose all true ministers may have the inspiration suited to their necessities.
(9) Of course, in strictly extempore preaching, the thoughts and language and gestures and all are unpremeditated.
(10) Ability to preach in this way will depend on the soul's walk with God, and the fullness of the Spirit's teaching.
(11) This again will depend on faith and obedience.
10. Extempore preaching with premeditation or study.(1) This is extempore as respects language only.
(2) Words or characters may be used to suggest the heads or points to be discussed.
(3) The language and manner are left to the inspiration of the moment.
(4) This is the method of the forum.
(5) This method gives occasion for the best display of real talent.
(6) Think and pray until you thoroughly understand you subject, and then talk it off until you see that you are understood and your thoughts are appreciated.
(7) This method gives most room for study.
(8) It cultivates the best habits of study.
(9) Creates a necessity for a thorough mastery of you subject.
(10) Is more instructive.
(11) More uniformly interesting.
(12) Also successful.
(13) It leaves all that is desirable to inspiration.
(14) Gives a man the greatest scope to bring his whole being into requisition.
(15) Saved the time and labor of writing.
(16) Cultivates a habit of clothing thought in words naturally and extemporaneously.
(17) Makes us free and powerful in conversation.
(18) In this respect, invaluable for a pastor.
(19) Habitual writing of sermons have the opposite effect. Such men lack power in conversation.
11. Suggestions in regard to personal behavior.(1) Be self-possessed, stand up straight.
(2) Avoid awkward behavior.
(3) Keep your hands out of your pockets.
(4) Use your pocket handkerchief and not your fingers.
(5) Don't strut and appear to feel important.
(6) In being self-possessed, do not be careless.
(7) Be respectful and avoid all that might seem like a contempt for the audience.
(8) Do not be, nor appear to be, intimidated.
(9) Be modest but not servile or abashed.
(10) Whilst you sit, don't wring.
(11) Also, take care of your feet.
(12) Don't get into any disgusting attitude.
(13) Avoid spitting if possible.
(14) When you stand, let your attitude be natural in a good sense.
(15) Hold up your head and look abroad upon the audience.
(16) Don't get sidewise, but face the audience, so as to be heard.
(17) Also, so as to make the language of your countenance understood and felt.
(18) If you feel deeply, your countenance will often express more than your words.
(19) Let all your looks and attitudes reveal your emotions.
(20) Don't direct attention by any uncouth motions of your hands or feet. Habit.
(21) Avoid everything that will offend the more refined of your audience.
12. Your voice.(1) If need be, cultivate a good voice.
(2) Especially cultivate articulation.
(3) Avoid a nasal manner of speaking.
(4) Also a deep bass voice.a. This costs too much breath.
b. It is not pleasant to the ear in speaking.
c. Spoils articulation.
d. Can't be understood but a few yards.
(5) Cultivate speaking in such a key as will give scope to natural variations.
(6) Cultivate a penetrating use of your voice, especially if naturally weak or thick.
(7) If you have any lisping or impediment, overcome it by practice.
(8) Ask judicious friends to criticize your voice, and whatever defects you do not fully appreciate.
(9) The voice needs cultivation for speaking as well as for singing.
(10) If the hearing is good, it can be cultivated for either speaking or singing.
(11) Much pains should be taken to make the most of the voice.
(12) And yet, little or no pains are taken even in educating those whose business is to be public speaking.
(13) A good voice is left to chance.
(14) Whereas it is essential to success.
(15) Opera singers and play actors are thoroughly trained.
(16) A well-cultivated voice is a charm to an audience.
(17) A harsh and uncultivated voice fatigues and repels an audience.
(18) Good voices are rare, but it need not and ought not to be so.
(19) Cultivate articulation on every key of your voice. Attention to this is indispensable.
(20) Avoid screaming and straining you voice.
(21) Beware of preaching when hoarse.
(22) Avoid a whining and sanctimonious voice.
(23) Also, monotonous tones and manners.
(24) Also, harsh, repellent tones.
(25) Cultivate a melodious voice.
(26) Secure sufficient volume.
(27) If need be, support the abdominal parts.
(28) Avoid all affectation of voice and speech.
(29) A feeble voice inefficient.
(30) A firm, strong, penetrating voice is powerful in the hands of the Spirit.
(31) Cultivate a searching voice.
(32) There is great want of philosophical teaching upon this subject.
13. Language(1) Avoid technical or scientific terms.
(2) Also, long and unusual words.
(3) Use monosyllables as much as possible.
(4) Study to express your ideas in the language of common like and usage.
(5) Avoid ornate language that might naturally divert attention.
(6) Aim to convey your thoughts by words that will attract no attention to themselves.
(7) Let the medium through which you address them be simply transparent -- neither cloudy, obscure, flowery or ornate.
(8) Use strong language, as tame language is inappropriate to such a theme.
(9) If you dwell in the light of God, you will naturally do this.
(10) A tame language argues blindness and unbelief.
(11) This is felt and noticed by sinners.
(12) Believe your own preaching, and you will use bold unequivocal language.
(13) Strong bold language, exercise of faith, has great power.
(14) Avoid the use of foreign words.
(15) Don't play Dr. Cox.
(16) Don't appear affected in pronunciation.
(17) If it would change, as it had done since I was at school you will feel embarrassed, as if you will appear affected.
(18) If you do not you may appear unlearned.
(19) Prof. White's manual is convenient.
(20) Use such language as you would in conversation with common people.
(21) Yes, as children would understand.
(22) It is a mistake to suppose that such language will be less acceptable to the cultivated than long, ornate and unusual words.
(23) What is called elevated language is unsuited to pulpit instruction.
(24) Thinking men say of such a style that the preacher either lacks a single eye or good sense.
(25) Let your language and style be earnest and conversational.
(26) Preach to the present congregation.
14. Illustrations.(1) Greatly important, often better than argument.
(2) Often indispensable -- Christ's parables.
(3) Illustrate from the employments of your audiences: Sailors, mechanics, husbandmen, railroad men, fishermen, lawyers, statesmen, relations.
(4) Illustrate by facts and anecdotes.
(5) Avoid illustrations that savor of pedantry (overemphasis on trivial details).
(6) Also, that attract attention from the thought to be illustrated.
(7) Don't get diverted by your own illustration so as to lose your threads of thought.
(8) Beware of an illustration that will mislead yourself or your audience.
(9) If one illustration does not posses them of your meaning, use another.
(10) You may need to multiply illustrations to posses different classes of your meaning.
(11) Spare no pains to be understood.
(12) Also, as a successful advocate does.
(13) There are now books of facts and anecdotes to be used as illustrations.
(14) The most successful preachers illustrate much.
(15) If your mind is analogical and your memory good, you will naturally illustrate by facts and parables.
(16) If not, you must study to illustrate.
15. Gestures. Cicero's reply to the question on what is the most essential of oratory.(1) Gestures, like words, are signs of ideas, thoughts, emotions, passions, ideas.
(2) They are a language.
(3) Often a most expressive language.
(4) If natural, they are the soul of oratory.
(5) If unnatural, they contradict words and greatly abate or quite destroy the power of speaking.
(6) The mind naturally seeks to convey its thoughts, affections, hatreds, loves, and various states, by using the whole body for that purpose.
(7) More especially, the voice, the hands and arms, the attitudes, the frowns, the smiles, the shaking of the head, the nodding, the menacing, the irritating looks and attitudes.
(8) Natural gesticulation is seldom a matter of consciousness.
(9) It is like the motions of the vocal organs.
(10) Unnatural gesticulation is like the use of words, either of no meaning or of a meaning different from or opposite to that which is expressed in words. Like Blodget's smile and winning manner when threatening the sinner with hell. It is a contradiction in manner of your subject matter.
(11) Shakespeare was right, "Suit the action to the words." Let your words and actions agree to enforce the same sentiment. Also your voice and whole manner.
(12) Your gestures in the pulpit should be as spontaneous and natural as they are in excited conversation.
(13) Cold temperaments content themselves with words and seldom gesticulate the more forcibly to impress their thoughts.
(14) Ardent temperaments almost constantly gesticulate.
(15) This is one of the most striking and infallible revelations of temperament.
(16) One who makes no gestures, as a rule, makes but slight impression. He does not half reveal his thought.
(17) One whose whole body speaks, both in words, attitudes, tones, gestures, groans, tears; when these are all natural and meritable, will make a correspondingly deep impression.
(18) The Holy Spirit uses all these as truly as he does words. Consider sympathy.
(19) Without gestures the Holy Spirit is deprived of by far the greater part of the means of conversion.
(20) The lazy, unimpassioned speaker cannot half preach the gospel.
(21) He must fall indefinitely short of representing its true spirit and meaning.
(22) Let no one think he has done his duty, if he has failed either in word or action to represent the truth in the most impressive manner possible to him. If he has not felt it, he has not preached it.
(23) A cold, dry, inactive, unimpressive manner, in one who states such truths, is more repulsive to a thinking sinner. His manner contradicts his words.
(24) Such a manner almost forces a scream from believing souls.
(25) The objection to action in the pulpit is stupid and infidel.
(26) The cry of sensational preaching is often only the excuse of the heartless.a. The design of gesticulation reveals its law, that is, the design is to reveal truth. Hence, its law is the same as that which pertains to any other language.
b. Make such gestures as would instruct the deaf and dumb.
c. Gesture when and as it will help to enforce the truth. If you feel, you can't help it.
d. Study to use the most clear and forcible words, and add the most natural jestures.
(27) The philosophy of gesticulation demands the most earnest study. Deaf asylum.
(28) Witness the power of action on the stage. See Garrick's rebuke of the Bishop.
(29) The study of gesticulation is of great importance and its neglect is amazing.
(30) Question. Should a preacher be theatrical? Not in the sense of representing fiction as reality. But in the sense of most impressively representing reality, yes!!
(31) Gestures are strictly the language of action. Cicero.
(32) Mark how earnest men do express themselves in action. (White).
(33) Be in earnest and unembarrassed, and you will naturally suit the action to the word.
(34) But never think you can innocently neglect actions.
(35) Study action as you do language, until you speak as naturally by action as by words.
(36) Then your gestures will help, not contradict, your words.
(37) Then also, your gestures will not be, nor appear to be, studied, but will flow spontaneously in harmony with, and give emphasis to your words.
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