IT gives me pleasure to write a foreword to this excellent volume. This book has been a standard reference work in theological seminaries for many years.
A flood of sermonic literature has passed from the presses of the country, yet no treatise on this subject has surpassed in clarity, logic, suggestion, and persuasion, this book by Dr. T. Harwood Pattison. "He being dead yet speaketh" through these pages.
The author has dug deep into his subject. He has analyzed the whole range of sermon making. He has revealed the strength and weakness of the pulpit and offers constructive methods that will greatly help to improve modern pulpit discourse.
This book deals with the fundamentals of the Art of Preaching, and fundamentals are as eternal as GOD who calls man to proclaim the Eternal Gospel.
THE title of this book sufficiently indicates its purpose. While intended primarily for the use of the student in the classroom, I have also written it with an eye to a still wider audience. I trust that it may be of use to some ministers who have not taken a seminary course, and also to many more whose classroom work, receding year by year, threatens, by the lapse of time and by the pressure of many duties needing their immediate attention, to become a faint and ineffectual memory.
It is perhaps inevitable, unless he guards himself against it most jealously, that the preacher should become a slave to the tyranny of his own habits of pulpit preparation. This is due to many causes: to the absorbing claims of pastoral work, which often leaves neither the time nor the vigor which is needed, if new methods are to be tried; to the dread of making any material change in habits which have come to be so much a part of himself; and to the almost breathless frequency with which Sundays recur, suggesting that they are somehow independent of the calendar that regulates the other days of the week. Amid the swift succession of his various engagements he is tempted to fall back on Abraham Lincoln's favorite counsel not to swap horses while crossing a stream, and to decide that in the making of his sermons whatever is, is best.
Under these circumstances it is only the preacher of a resolute mind and a highly conscientious nature who can be depended on to make any material advance in his way of preparing to preach.
No man is in greater danger of becoming formal - I will not say fossilized - than is the ordinary preacher. Even when the happy experiences of his pastorate keep his heart young, there may be no springtime in his habits of thought. Every true preacher will bear me witness that there are times when he resents the monotony of his work; not that he is tired of it, but only, as George Whitefield said so pathetically, that he is tired in it. Unconsciously to himself, perhaps, he furnishes a fresh illustration of the truth of Lord Bacon's weighty words: "A man would die, though he was neither valiant nor miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft over and over."
One cure for this wearisome trend in his pulpit preparation he may find in frequently reviewing his course and revising his methods. The business of preaching fulfills itself in many ways, and we are wise if, even though it be at the cost of betraying some lack of ease as we strike into them, we now and then resolve to explore the unbeaten paths of our vocation.
No one method of preparing or delivering a sermon is so certainly the best method that the preacher can afford to neglect all others.
"Still learning," the brave words with which Michael Angelo in extreme old age faced the snows of a Roman winter in order that he might study afresh the lines of the Coliseum, may well be the motto of all true workers, of ourselves among the rest.
Although we may be disposed to challenge the implication which it contains, I think we may all join in Thomas Carlyle's sentiment when he wrote: "I wish he could find the point again - this speaking one, and stick to it with tenacity, with deadly energy - for there is need of him yet."
Rather than encumber the pages of the book with the many formal divisions needed in the classroom, I have prefixed to each chapter a summary of its contents, analyzed for the benefit of the student. For the index which may better answer the purposes of the ordinary reader, I am indebted to the generous offices of my friend, R. Kerr Eccles, M. D., of Bowling Green, Ohio.
T. H. P.