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Stout also told us, unlike Miller, what sources he was using to prove his thesis. Moreover, itinerancy broke up the relative tranquility of parish life, raising the possibility not only of lay dissent, but of a multiplicity of authoritative religious voices, moving beyond the older dialectic of orthodoxy and dissent. Stout rightly shows that the revivals would have fizzled without a groundswell of lay support.

The laity often challenged just those pastors who had shifted away from the tried-and-true messages of sin, salvation, and covenant. This may help explain why revivals continued on a local and occasionally regional scale as they did in the mids and early s but did not generate as much furor as they did in the s.

Even in the Revolution, the messages of sin, salvation, and covenant remained relatively stable, although the worldly implications of freedom in Christ had never seemed so pertinent. Worldly and spiritual liberty became closely connected, at times indistinguishable.

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Even as he urged them to fight for American liberty, Thacher presented the war as a possible distraction from spiritual liberty. If we are saved God alone must save us. Hell, or the British? Thacher did not make a distinction; the answer was both Since republicanism was so malleable as to be almost indefinable, the Congregationalists of easily saw its themes as consistent with those preached from their pulpits since They had long warned of powers who would deprive them of their civil and economic liberties, and ultimately of their religious liberty, whether they be the Catholic Stuarts or, since the s, the French.

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They chose based upon who was there! Richard Baxter ,. If Baxter was preaching on the guilt and misery of sin, and he noticed that several drunkards were in the church, he'd find Application 18, let's say, on the guilt and misery of drunkenness. But, if no drinkers were there, he'd bring up Application 44 on the guilt and misery of self-righteousness. In other words, any Bible verse can be applied to anyone.

A Classical Analysis of Puritan Preaching - Reformation21

But the preacher has to be prepared to do it in an appropriate way! The first thing the Puritans wanted in a sermon was plainness. The Puritans demanded high learning in their preachers, but they despised its parading. Hebrew, Greek, and Latin were needed in the study, but had no place in the pulpit. Why not? Because people couldn't understand them. The same is true with learned references, the citing of Church Fathers, and so on. Some quotes,. For one thing, it took minds off Christ and put them on the preacher!

Perkins- "We do not paint Christ, but ourselves". Bolton- "Such preaching is for self-praise and private ends". John Cotton was a man of immense learning. One day, he was invited to preach at Cambridge University. In the morning service, he stuffed the sermon with foreign words and learned citations. But afterwards, he felt so ashamed of himself that he never did it again. That evening, he preached with great plainnesss to the edification of everyone there.

Praying in the Spirit - Puritan John Bunyan Sermon

They opposed fancy sermons because they drew attention to the preacher and took it off of Christ. The second reason they wanted plain sermons is so that everyone-from the scholar to the milkmaid could understand.

Increase Mather was a fine scholar, but he said, the only art he cared for was. The third reason is the Bible itself is a plain book.

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Not every word in it is a snap to understand, of course, but the high-falutin language we sometimes hear in sermons is entirely lacking in the Word of God. Benjamin Keach,. Puritan sermons were plain: Not stupid, not full of aints and caints and so on, but clear to everyone in the congregation. Including the kids and the mothers chasing them.

The second thing they demanded in a sermon was seriousness. Their seriousness was a by-product of their view of preaching. What does preaching do? One said it brings every man closer to heaven or to hell. He was right. Preaching is serious because heaven and hell are serious. Puritan pastors were gifts of Christ to the Church. He gets all the glory for making them the men they were and giving them the success they had.

But though Christ did it, He didn't do it by a miracle. Second causes were used. The preachers studied hard, prayed much, and kept a close eye on themselves and their doctrine. But what about the people? Did they help their pastors?

Puritan preaching in England; a study of past and present

Of course they did. A lot could be said here, but let me hurry on with four or five points and little elaboration. They gave them time to study. The Puritans believed that preaching is the pastor's Number One responsibility. That means they gave him time to study, pray, and prepare his sermons with care. I have a pastor friend who, frankly, is not much of a preacher. And no wonder: His people want him to do everything! From mowing the lawn to chairing the ladies auxiliary to organizing youth outings, the man has almost no time to study! They call him the pastor, but, in fact, he's the church go-fer!

The Puritans gave their pastors time to study. They came to hear him. It's an awesome thing to see the church packed week after week, but it's also encouraging. Believe you me, when the pastor works hard to prepare a sermon and only six people show up to hear it, it is somewhat discouraging. When he knows that everyone else is home watching TV or something. They paid attention.

When the Sermon Reigned

Jan Comenius came to England during the Puritan era and was shocked to see people listening and taking notes. He had never seen that in the Lutheran Church. That's the Puritan view of preaching. Should we imitate it? In every detail? Of course not; the Puritans lived years ago and the times have changed. In the TV age people cannot sit for three hour sermons-and frankly, I don't know a pastor who knows enough to preach one!

I've heard men trying to preach with Puritan sermons by using sentences with words in them. That worked for them, but it won't work for us.