There are preachers ( a) who you cannot listen to, (b) who you can listen to (c) who you cannot help listening to .
We recognize at once a speaker who knows his or her subject; who, through clearness of insight, always keeps one end in view, and sacrifices all minor points to attain it.
CARVING A CHICKEN.
Dividing a text is like carving a chicken; the best thing is to know the joints. I heard a preacher once who excelled in this and I listened to him ever afterwards and further went on to buy his books. If the preacher is good you cant help listening to him.
WINE IN THE GRAPE.
In one of his sermons he said, ” I like to get my text and then find out it’s meaning and it’s bearings. Then I lie down on it, and let it soak into me until I am saturated with it.” What I gathered he was saying is that there was wine in the grape of every syllable.
A preacher must prune all verbal excesses and use sentences of which he can see the end. He may not be sufficiently gifted to find a way into daylight through a tangled verbal forest. He must not have the besetting sin of volubility; of being both profuse and diffuse . It is a mistake to attempt to make up in length what one lacks in depth and substance.
I read an article where Queen Anne said to her Chaplain, Dr. South, ” I wish you had had time to make the sermon longer. “Your majesty ” he replied, ” I wish I had time to make it shorter.”
If it good, it need not be long; if it is not good; it should not be long. In preaching there’s one virtue that is within the reach of the preacher and it is brevity and he or she should determine to attain it. There are limits to the power of attention, and to the sustaining of interest. The preacher must win attention; he cannot command it. When a vessel becomes full, it is needless to attempt to pour in more.
Some of your audience or congregation by now only there in body, in thought they are busy doing other things way over on the other side of town, some have reached home already. Those that are there in body thought and spirit will never listen to you again. BECAUSE IF IT’S GOOD IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE LONG AND IF IT’S NOT GOOD IT OUGHT NOT TO BE LONG.