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Householders without Treasure

January 16, 2007

Today’s Classic Materials is a challenge from Charles Bridges’ classic book The Christian Ministry. Some powerful challenges here. Do we have substance in our sermons? Do the sermons we hear generally have ‘substantial’ content? And if so, how do we proportion the right amount so that we don’t leave the congregation overwhelmed?

“No powers of imagination, natural eloquence, or vehement excitement can compensate for the want of substantial matter. The ‘pastors according to God’s heart will feed the people with knowledge and understanding.’ But except there be a gathering proportionate to the expenditure, there can be no store of knowledge and understanding for distribution to the people.

Preachers of this stamp are generally known by their general want of variety. It is substantially not only (what it always ought to be) the same doctrine, but nearly the same sermon. If a new text may be expected, yet it is the repitition of the same thoughts, attenuated with regular but more wearisome uniformity.

They are ‘householders’, but without ‘treasure.’ The ‘old’ indeed they can readily ‘bring forth’ but where is the ‘new’?

This poverty of thought cannot be justly chargeable upon their resources. For there is no characteristic of Scripture more striking, than the diversified aspects and relations, in which it presents the same truths, fraught with fresh interest and important instruction.”

One comment

  1. As I read it, the quote isn’t so much a plea for substance, as it is a plea to stay out of ruts. And (I think I hear Bridges saying), the way to do that is by keeping them “filled in” — the “gathering proportionate to the expenditure”, as he puts it.

    I suppose even a “substantial” sermon could be “old treasure” if it’s the 27th time that year the faithful have heard it….

    FWIW, YMMV, etc.!🙂

    David Reimer



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