I have seen in a recent copy of an American paper the following letter received recently by a young minister from one of his hearers upon the occasion of an exchange with another pastor, and it teaches how much of the prevailing indifference to the gospel on the part of men may be ascribed to the fact that pointless essays are too often substituted for gospel sermons. Let me add here this letter, with the hope that God will bless the rebuke which it contains to every one of us.
“Reverend Brother: I listened very attentively to your clever essay on history this morning, and hoped to find some features of a gospel sermon. Was it my fault that I did not find or detect anything in it:
first, to convict men of sin;
second, to conduct the penitent to Christ;
third, to quicken the backslider;
fourth, to comfort the afflicted;
fifth, to guide the perplexed;
sixth, to encourage the desponding;
seventh, to caution the unwary;
eighth, to remove doubt,
ninth, to stimulate zeal;
tenth, to fortify patience;
eleventh, to arouse aspirations;
twelfth, to kindle devotion;
thirteenth, to expose the wiles of the devil,
fourteenth, to broaden charity;
fifteenth, to develop faith;
sixteenth, to instruct in any of the practical duties of Christian life; or
finally, to impart information needed for practical utilization in Christian life.
You may reply, I did not design to do any of these things. But, my brother, as a Christian minister and not as a literary essayist, can you afford to misuse any such occasion by not designing to do some of these things?
You are a minister of the Word, which is to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Pardon these kindly suggestions from one, who, tired of business, goes to Church to be helped.”
Pierson, A. T. (1892). The Divine Art of Preaching (pp. 154–155). New York: Baker & Taylor Co.