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A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts. Elements of preaching include exposition, exhortation and practical application.



In Christianity, a sermon (also known as a homily within some churches) is often delivered in a place of worship, most of which have a pulpit or ambo, an elevated architectural feature. The word "sermon" comes from a Middle English word which was derived from an Old French term, which in turn came from the Latin word sermō; ("discourse"). The word can mean "conversation", which could mean that early sermons were delivered in the form of question and answer, and that only later did it come to mean a monologue. In contrast to this, is the examples from the Bible, where sermons are speeches without interlocution: Moses' sermon in Deuteronomy 1-33[1]; Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7[2]; Peter's sermon after Pentecost in Acts 2:14-40[3].

In modern language, the word "sermon" can also be used pejoratively in secular terms to describe a lengthy or tedious speech delivered with great passion, by any person, to an uninterested audience. A sermonette is a short sermon (usually associated with television broadcasting, as stations would present a sermonette before signing off for the night).

Sermons in the Christian tradition

In Christianity, the most famous sermon is the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus of Nazareth. This sermon was probably preached around 30 A.D. and is recounted in the Gospel of Matthew (5:1–7:29, including introductory and concluding material) as being delivered on a mount on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum. The Sermon on the Mount lays out many of the core principles of Christianity. Another rendition of much of the same material may be found in the "Sermon on the Plain" in the Gospel of Luke (6:17–49, including introductory material).

During the later history of Christianity, several figures became known for their sermons or a particularly significant sermon. Preachers of the early church include Peter (see especially Acts 2:14b–36), Stephen (see Acts 7:1b–53), Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzus. Sermons in this era were used to spread Christianity across Europe and Asia Minor. During the Middle Ages, sermons inspired the beginnings of new religious orders (eg, Saint Dominic and Francis of Assisi). Pope Urban II began the First Crusade in November 1095 at the Council of Clermont, France, when he exhorted French knights to retake the Holy Land in Palestine.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, the art of preaching has developed through the theological field of homiletics.

Many sermons have been written down, collected and published. Such sermons include John Wesley's 53 Standard Sermons, John Chrysostom's Homily on the Resurrection (preached every Easter in Orthodox churches) and Gregory Nazianzus' homily "On the Theophany, or Birthday of Christ" (preached every Christmas in Orthodox churches). Martin Luther began a tradition of publishing sermons (Hauspostille) on the Sunday lessons for the edification of readers. This tradition was continued by Chemnitz and Arndt and others into the following centuries — for example CH Spurgeon's stenographed sermons, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit[1].

Role in Protestantism

"The certain mark by which a Christian community can be recognized is the preaching of the gospel in its purity."—Luther[2]

The Reformation led to Protestant sermons, many of which defended the schism with the Roman Catholic Church and explained beliefs about scripture, theology and devotion. The distinctive doctrines of Protestantism held that salvation was by faith alone, and convincing people to believe the Gospel and place trust in God for their salvation through Jesus Christ was the decisive step in salvation. In many Protestant churches, the sermon came to replace the Eucharist as the central act of Christian worship. The goal of Protestant worship, as conditioned by these beliefs, was to rouse the congregation to a deeper faith, rather than have them just partake in rituals.

In the 1700s and 1800s during the Great Awakening, major sermons were made at revivals, which were especially popular in the United States. These sermons were noted for their "fire-and-brimstone" message, typified by Jonathan Edwards's famous "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" speech. In these sermons the wrath of God was clearly one to be afraid of, although fear was not the message Edwards was trying to convey in his sermons, he was simply trying to tell the people that they could be forgiven for their sins.


There are a number of different types of sermons, that differ both in their subject matter and by their intended audience, and accordingly not every preacher is equally well-versed in every type. The types of sermons are:

  • Topical sermons - concerned with a particular subject of current concern;
  • Liturgical sermons - sermons that explain the liturgy, why certain things are done during a service, such as why communion is offered and what it means.[3]
  • Biographical sermons - tracing the story of a particular biblical character through a number of parts of the Bible.
  • Historical sermons - which seek to portray a biblical story within its historical perspective.[4]
  • Evangelistic sermons - seeking to convert the congregation or bring them back to their previous faith through a recounting of the Good News.
  • Expository preaching - exegesis, that is sermons that expound and explain a text to the congregation.
  • Redemptive-Historical Preaching - sermons that takes into consideration the context of any given text within the broader history of salvation as recorded in the canon of the bible.
  • Narrative sermons - which tell a story, often a parable, or a series of stories, to make a moral point.
  • Illuminative sermons, also known as proems (petihta) - which connect an apparently unrelated biblical verse or religious question with the current calendrical event or festival.[5]

It is worth noting that sermons can be both written and spoken out loud.

Delivery methods

Sermons also differ on the amount of time and effort used to prepare them.

  • Scripted preaching — preaching with a previous preparation, it can be with help of notes or a script, or rely on the memory of the preacher.
  • Extemporaneous preaching — preaching without overly detailed notes and sometimes without preparation. Usually a basic outline and scriptural references are listed as notes.
  • Impromptu preaching — preaching without previous preparation.

With the advent of reception theory, researchers also became aware that how how sermons are listened to affects their meaning as much as how they are delivered. The expectations of the congregation, their prior experience of listening to oral texts, their level of scriptural education, and the relative social positions — often reflected in the physical arrangement — of sermon-goers vis-a-vis the preacher are part of the meaning of the sermon.

See also


  1. ^ Spurgeon, C.H., Spurgeon's Sermons, Baker 2003, ISBN 0801011132
  2. ^ Tappert, T.G., Selected Writings of Martin Luther, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007, p.325
  3. ^ Schüch, Ignaz (1894) A manual of homiletics and catechetics: the priest in the pulpit (Boniface Luebbermann editor and translator)‎ Benziger, New York, page 170, OCLC 15157571
  4. ^ Schüch, Ignaz (1894) A manual of homiletics and catechetics: the priest in the pulpit (Boniface Luebbermann editor and translator)‎ Benziger, New York, page 169, OCLC 15157571
  5. ^ Holtz, Barry W. (1984) Back to the Sources: Reading the classic Jewish texts Summit Books, New York, page 198, ISBN 0-671-45467-6


  • American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Warner, ed. (New York: The Library of America, 1999) ISBN 1-883011-65-5
  • Edwards, O. C., Jr. A History of Preaching. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004. ISBN 0-687-03864-2
  • Sullivan, Ceri, 'The Art of Listening in the Seventeenth Century', Modern Philology 104.1 (2006), pp. 34-71
  • Willimon, William H. and Richard Lischer, eds. Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995. ISBN 0-664-21942-X


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Preaching is the act of delivering a sermon, an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy which addresses a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts.


Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • Jesus chose this method of extending the knowledge of Himself throughout the world; He taught His truth to a few men, and then He said, " Now go and tell that truth to other men."
  • Remember, there are only a few model preachers. We have read of only one perfect Model, and He was crucified many centuries ago.
    • C. H. Fowler, p. 476.
  • The object of preaching is, constantly to remind mankind of what mankind are constantly forgetting; not to supply the defects of human intelligence, but to fortify the feebleness of human resolutions; to recall mankind from the by-paths where they turn, into that broad path of salvation which all know, but few tread.
  • It is easier to declaim like an orator against a thousand sins in others than to mortify one sin in ourselves; to be more industrious in our pulpits than in our closets; to preach twenty sermons to our people than one to our own hearts.
  • Language the most forcible proceeds from the man who is most sincere. The way to speak with power, or to write words that pierce mankind to the quick, is to speak and write honestly.
    • Elias Lyman Magoon, p. 476.
  • I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teachings.
  • His words had power because they accorded with his thoughts; and his thoughts had reality and depth because they harmonized with the life he had always lived. It was not mere breath that this preacher uttered; they were the words of life, because a life of good deeds and holy love was melted into them. Pearls, pure and rich, had been dissolved into the precious draught.
  • Let him who would move and convince others, be first moved and convinced himself.
  • Always carry with you into the pulpit a sense of the immense consequences which may depend on your full and faithful presentation of the truth.
    • R. S. Storrs, p. 477.
  • The orator is thereby an orator that he keeps his feet ever on a fact.
  • Settle in your mind, that no sermon is worth much in which the Lord is not the principal speaker. There may be poetry, refinement, historic truth, moral truth, pathos, and all the charms of rhetoric; but all will be lost, for the purposes of preaching, if the word of the Lord is not the staple of the discourse.
    • John Hall, p. 477.
  • To get, then, the mind of Christ,'and to declare it, is the primary end of the teaching offices of the church. The living body of sympathetic men, saturated with the truth and feeling of the Book, must bring it into contact with other men, through that marvelous organ the human voice, and with such aid as comes from the subtle sympathy that pervades assemblies of human beings.
    • John Hall, p. 478.
  • Every sermon must have a solid rest in Scripture, and the pointedness which comes of a clear subject, and the conviction which belongs to well-thought argument, and the warmth that proceeds from earnest appeal.
  • Let us never forget that, to be profited, that is, to be spiritually improved in knowledge, faith, holiness, joy, and love, is the end of hearing sermons, and not merely to have our taste gratified by genius, eloquence, and oratory.
  • The most intelligent hearers are those who enjoy most heartily the simplest preaching. It is not they who clamor for superlatively intellectual or aesthetic sermons. Daniel Webster used to complain of some of the preaching to which he listened. "In the house of God" he wanted to meditate" upon the simple varieties, and the undoubted facts of religion;" not upon mysteries and abstractions.
    • Austin Phelps, p. 478.
  • Tell men that God is love; that right is right, and wrong, wrong; let them cease to admire philanthropy, and begin to love men; cease to pant for heaven, and begin to love God; then the spirit of liberty begins.
  • But even genuine argument for the truth is not preaching the gospel, neither is he whose unbelief is thus assailed likely to be brought thereby into any mood but one unfit for receiving it. Argument should be kept to books; preachers ought to have nothing to do with it,— at all events in the pulpit. There let them hold forth light, and let him, who will, receive it, and him who will not, forbear. God only can convince.
  • I would have every minister of the gospel address his audience with the zeal of a friend, with the generous energy of a father, and with the exuberant affection of a mother.
  • The accent of conviction is made up of a mixture of faith, power, and love combined, forming a characteristic which is at once simple, pious, and grand, redolent of inspiration and sanctity. Here are no fabulous joys and woes; no hollow, fantastic sentimentalities; no wire-drawn refinings, either in thought or feeling; the passion that is traced before us has glowed in a living heart; the opinion he utters has risen in his own understanding, and'been a light to his own steps.
  • Direct your arrows at objects without being personal; come near your hearers. Letters dropped into the post-office without address go to the dead-letter office, and are of no use to any body.
    • John Hall, p. 479.
  • I preached right to their consciences, and the result was a great revival of religion came up there; and after that I never heard any thing about infidelity.
    • Lyman Beecher, p. 479.
  • I like to go and hear Rowland Hill, because his ideas come red-hot from the heart.
    • R. B. Sheridan, p. 480.
  • The truth is, no preaching ever had any strong power that was not the preaching of doctrine. The preachers that have moved and held men have always preached doctrine. No exhortation to a good life that does not put behind it some truth as deep as eternity can seize and hold the conscience. Preach doctrine, preach all the doctrine that you know, and learn forever more and more; but preach it always, not that men may believe it, but that they may be saved by believing it.
  • To preach practical sermons as they are called, that is, sermons upon virtues and vices, without inculcating those great Scripture truths of redemption, grace, etc., which alone can incite and enable us to forsake sin and follow after righteousness, what is it but to put. together the wheels, and set the hands of a watch, forgetting the spring, which is to make them all go?
    • Bishop Horne, p. 480.
  • Avoid all controversy in preaching, talking, or writing; preach nothing down but the devil, and nothing up but Jesus Christ.
    • Berridge, p. 480.
  • The old fable tells us of a boy who mounted a scavenger's cart with base intent to throw dirt at the moon; whereat another boy, with better intentions, but scarcely less folly, came running with a basin of water to wash the moon, and make its face clean again. Certain skeptics are forever inventing new infidelities with which they endeavor to defile the fair face of the gospel, and many ministers forsake the preaching of Christ and Him crucified, to answer their endless quibbles; to both of these the ancient fable may be instructive.
    • Anonymous, p. 480.
  • If the truth were known, many sermons are prepared and preached with more regard for the sermon than the souls of the hearers.
    • George F. Pentecost, p. 481.
  • His admired discourses remind me of the colored shavings with which we fill empty grates in the summer time.
    • Lynch, p. 481.
  • Elegance of language must give way before simplicity in preaching sound doctrine.
    • Savonarola, p. 481.
  • Embellish truth only with a view to gain it the more full and free admission into your hearer's minds; and your ornaments will, in that case, be simple, masculine, natural.
    • Hugh Blair, p. 481.
  • Style should be like window-glass, perfectly transparent, and with very little sash.
    • Emmons, p. 481.
  • Style is the gossamer on which the seeds of truth float through the world.
  • The greatest thoughts are wronged, if not linked to beauty; and they win their way most surely and deeply into the soul when arranged in this their natural and fit attire.
  • You don't want a diction gathered from the newspapers, caught from the air, common and unsuggestive; but you want one whose every word is full-freighted with suggestion and association, with beauty and power.
  • John Bunyan, while he had a surpassing genius, would not condescend to cull his language from the garden of flowers; but he went into the hayfield and the meadow, and plucked up his language by the roots, and spoke out in the words that the people used in their cottages.
  • The great bell of Moscow is too large to be hung, the question arises, what was the use of making it? Some preachers are so learned that they cannot make themselves understood, or else cannot bring their minds to preach plain, gospel sermons; here, too, the same question might be asked.
  • It is a great mistake to think any thing too profound or rich for a popular audience. No train of thought is too deep, or subtle, or grand — but the manner of presenting it to their untutored minds should be peculiar. It should be presented in anecdote, or sparkling truism, or telling illustration, or stinging epithet; always in some concrete form, never in a logical, abstract, syllogistic shape.
  • In general, rely mainly on Scriptural arguments, and prefer those that are plain and unquestionable.
    • Broadus, p. 482.
  • The text should sustain, suggest, and give tone to the sermon. The main thought of the text should usually be the main thought of the sermon. A text must not be a pretext.
    • John Hall, p. 482.

When a preacher was censured by his brethren for the bad habit of exaggeration, he assured them he had "often bitterly repented of it; it had cost him barrels of tears." For such a case there is no cure.

    • Anonymous, The New York Observer, p. 483.
  • Whether you do your work with notes or without them, do it courageously, earnestly, with devotion; with a glad sense of the greatness of it, and a full consecration of every force and faculty to it.
    • R. S. Storrs, p. 483.
  • We doubt whether a man ever brings his faculties to bear with their whole force on a subject, until he writes upon it.
  • A leading Welsh minister — and Welsh ministers are, I think, among the best preachers — was invited to preach an anniversary sermon before one of the great societies in London. Naturally anxious to disregard no propriety, he consulted the proper authority, the secretary. "Should I read my sermon?" "Oh, it is no matter, only bring some of your Welsh fire with you." " But you cannot, my dear sir, carry fire on paper." "No, that is true; but you may use the paper to kindle the fire."
    • John Hall, p. 483.
  • If any of you ever go into the pulpit "simply upon the cold legs of custom," be very careful to take a manuscript with you. But if you go to speak to the assembly because your mind is full of the truth, and you long to impart that truth to them, for their sake and for God's sake, — then charge your mind with it, and speak with all the force you can give it, without any notes.
    • R. S. Storr, p. 483.
  • I verily believe that the kingdom of God advances more on spoken words than it does on essays written and read; on words, that is, in which the present feeling and thought of the teaching mind break into natural and forceful expression.
    • R. S. Storrs, p. 484.
  • Let the sermon thou hast heard be converted into prayer.
  • Be short in all religious exercises. Better leave the people longing than loathing. No conversion after the first half hour.
    • Emmons, p. 484.

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PREACHING (Fr. precher, from Lat. praedicare, to proclaim), the proclamation of a Divine message both to those who have not heard it, and to those who, having heard it, have not accepted it, and the regular instruction of the converted in the doctrines and duties of the faith, is a distinctive though not a peculiar feature of the Christian religion. The Mahommedans exercise it freely, and it is not unknown among the Buddhists. The history of Christian preaching with which alone this article is concerned has its roots (I) in the activity of the Hebrew prophets and scribes, the former representing the broader appeal, the latter the edification of the faithful, (2) in the ministry of Jesus Christ and His apostles, where again we have both the evangelical invitation and the teaching of truth and duty. Whichever element is emphasized in preaching, the preacher is one who believes himself to be the ambassador of God, charged with a message which it is his duty to deliver.

1. The Patristic Age, to the Death of St Augustine, A.D. 430.- Of the first two centuries we have very little information. From the Acts of the Apostles we gather something as to the methods adopted by St Peter and St Paul, and these we may believe were more or less general. The Apostles who had known the Lord would naturally recall the facts of His life, and the story of His words and works would form a great deal of their preaching. After they had passed away and before the Christian Scriptures were canonically sifted and collected there was a gap which for us is only slenderly filled by such productions as the so-called 2nd Epistle of Clement, really a rambling homily on repentance and confession (see Clementine Literature), and by what we can imagine was the practice of men like Ignatius and, on the other hand, the Apologists. Most of these were primarily writers, but Justin Martyr has left a reputation for speaking, especially in debate, as well. Some of the writings of Tertullian (c. 200), e.g. those on Patience and Penitence, read as though they had been spoken, and it is hard to believe that this brilliant rhetorician did not consecrate his powers of address to his new faith. Cyprian (d. 258), too, was a finished speaker; his Epistle to Donatus emphasizes the need of a simple and undecorated style in the proclamation of the gospel. None of his sermons, however, unless we regard his book on the Lord's Prayer as a homily, has come down to us.

By this time the canon of New Testament Scripture was fairly settled, and with Origen (d. 254) we find the beginning of preaching as an explanation and application of definite texts. Origen was pre-eminently a teacher, and the didactic side of preaching is thus more conspicuous in his work. When we allow for his excessive use of the allegorical method, there is still left a great deal of power and suggestiveness. In his hands, as may be seen from the 19 homilies on Jeremiah that have been preserved in the Greek (and others in the Latin of Rufinus), the crude homily of his predecessors began to take a more dignified, orderly and impressive form. Alongside Origen we may rank Hippolytus of Rome on the strength of the one sermon of his which is extant, a panegyric on baptism based on the theophany which marked the baptism of Jesus.

The 4th century marks the culmination of early Christian preaching. The imperial patronage had made education and social distinctions a greater possibility for the preacher, and the decline of political eloquence furnished an opening for pulpit oratory. The didactic element was no longer in sole possession of the field, for the inrush of multitudes to the Christian faith and the building of large churches necessitated a return to the evangelical or proclamatory type of sermon. It was he age of doctrinal controversy, and the intellectual presentation of the Christian position was thus sharpened and developed. The Antiochene school had set a worthy example of careful exegesis of scripture. It was in the East especially that preaching flourished: Eusebius of Caesarea, Eusebius of Emesa, Athanasius, Macarius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephraem Syrus among the orthodox; and of the Arians, Arius himself and Ulfilas the great Gothic missionary, are all of high quality; but above even these stand out the three Cappadocians,Basil (q.v.) of Caesarea,cultured, devout and practical; his brother Gregory of Nyssa, more inclined to the speculative and metaphysical, and Gregory (q.v.) of Nazianzus, richly endowed with poetic and oratorial gifts, the finest preacher of the three. At the apex of the pyramid stands John of Antioch, Chrysostom, who in 387, at the age of 40, began his 12 years' ministry in his native city and in 399, the six memorable years in Constantinople, where he loved the poor, withstood tyranny and preached with amazing power. His sermons, says Dr E. C. Dargan, "show the native oratorical instinct highly trained by study and practice, a careful and sensible (not greatly allegorical) interpretation of Scripture, a deep concern for the spiritual welfare of his charge, and a thorough consecration to his work. His style is impetuous, rich, torrential at times; his thought is practical and imaginative rather than deeply philosophical. His knowledge of human nature is keen and ample, and his sermons are a remarkable reflection of the manners and customs of his age. His ethical appeal is constant and stimulating." In the West the allegorical method of Alexander had more influence than the historical exegesis of Antioch. This is seen in Ambrose of Milan, with whom may be named Hilary of Poitiers and Gaudentius of Brescia, the friend of Chrysostom, and a link between him and Ambrose. But the only name of first rank in preaching is that of Augustine, and even he is curiously unequal. His fondness for the allegorical and his manifest carelessness of preparation disappoint as often as his profundity, his devout mysticisms, his practical application attract and satisfy. Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, bk. iv., is the first attempt to formulate the principles of homiletics.

2. The Early Middle Ages, 430-1100. - After the days of Chrysostom and Augustine there was a great decline of preaching. With the poor exceptions of one or two names like those of Theodore of Mopsuestia and John of Damascus, the Eastern Church produced no preachers of distinction. The causes of the ebb were both internal and external. Within the Church there was a departure from the great experimental truths of the Gospel, their place being taken by the preaching of nature and morality on a theistic basis. To this we may add a fantastic and absurd allegorization, the indiscriminate laudation of saints and martyrs, polemical strife, the hardening of the doctrine into dogma, the development of a narrow ecclesiasticism, and the failure of the missionary spirit in the orthodox section of the Eastern Church (as contrasted with the marvellous evangelistic activity of the Nestorians. Outside the Church the breakup of old civilizations, the confused beginnings of medieval kingdoms, with the attendant war and rapine, the inroads of the Saracens and the rise of Islam, were all effective silencers of the pulpit. Yet the night was not without its stars; at Rome Leo the Great and Gregory the Great could preach, and the missionaries Patrick, Columba, Columbanus, Augustine, Wilfrid, Willibrord, Gall and Boniface are known by their fruits. The homilies of Beda are marked by a tender devoutness, and here and there rise to glowing eloquence. In the 8th century Charlemagne, through the Capitularies, tried in vain to galvanize preaching; such specimens as we have show the sermons of the times to be marked by superstition, ignorance, formality and plagiarism. It was the age when the papacy was growing out of the ruins of the old Roman Empire, and the best talents were devoted to the organization of ecclesiasticism rather than to the preaching of the Word. Liturgies were taking shape, penance was deemed of more importance than repentance, and there was more insistence on discipline than on Christian morality. Towards the end of the period we note the beginnings of the triple division of medieval preaching into cloistral, parochial and missionary or popular preaching, a division based at first on audiences rather than on subject-matter, the general character of which - legends and popular stories rather than exposition of Scripture - was much the same everywhere. About this time, no doubt, some preachers began to use the vernacular, though no examples of such a practice have been preserved. There are few great names in the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries: Anselm was a great Churchman, but no great preacher; perhaps the most worthy of mention is Anskar, the missionary to the Scandinavians. Rabanus Maurus published an adaptation of Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, bk. iv. But certain forces were at work which were destined to bring about a great revival, viz. the rise of the scholastic theology, the reforms of Pope Hildebrand, and the preaching of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II.

(d. 1099) and Peter the Hermit.

3. The Later Medieval Age, 1100-1500.

In the 12th century the significant feature is the growing use of the various national languages in competition with the hitherto universal Latin. The, most eminent preacher of the century was Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), esteemed alike by gentle and simple, and summing up the popular scholastic and mystical types of preaching. His homilies, though tediously minute, still breathe a charm and power (see Bernard, St).

Alongside Bernard may be placed the two mystics of St Victor, Hugo and Richard, and a little later Peter Waldo of Lyons, who, like Henry of Lausanne, preached a plain message to the poor and lowly. The 13th century saw the culmination of medieval preaching, especially in the rise of the two great mendicant orders of Francis and Dominic. Representative Franciscan names are Antony of Padua (d. 1231), who travelled and preached through southern Europe; Berthold of Regensburg (d. 1272), who, with his wit and pathos, imagination and insight, drew huge crowds all over Germany, as in homeliest vernacular he denounced sin with all the severity of a John the Baptist; and Francis Bonaventura, the schoolman and mystic, who wrote a little book on The Art of Preaching. Of the Dominicans Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), the theologian, was perhaps also the greatest preacher. With the 14th century a new note, that of reformation, is struck; but on the whole there was a drop from the high level of the 13th. In Italy Bernardino of Siena on the scholastic side, Robert of Lecce and Gabriel Barletta on the popular, are the chief names; in Germany these phases are represented by John Gritsch and John Geiler of Kaiserburg respectively. Among the popular preachers vigour was often blended with coarseness and vulgarity. Mysticism is represented by Suso, Meister Eckhart, above all Johann Tauler of Strassburg (d. 1461), a true prophet in an age of degeneration. Towards the close of the century comes John Wycliffe and his English travelling preachers, who passed the torch to Hus and the Bohemians, and in the next age Savonarola, who was to Florence what Jeremiah had been to Jerusalem.

4. The Reformation Period, 1500-1700

It is here that the story of modern preaching may be said to begin. The Reformers gave the sermon a higher place in the ordinary service than it had previously held, and they laid special stress upon the interpretation and application of Scripture. The controversy with Rome, and the appeal to the reason and conscience of the individual, together with the spread of the New Learning, gave preaching a new force and influence which reacted upon the old faith, as John Wild (d. 1554), one of the best Roman Catholic preachers of the day, a man noted for his "emphasis on Scripture, his grasp of evangelical truth, his earnest piety, amiable character and sustained power in the pulpit," fully admitted. Other famous preachers on the same side were the Spaniards Luiz of Granada and Thomas of Villanova, the Italians Cornelio Musso, Egidio of Viterbo and Carlo Borromeo, and the German Peter Canisius. Among the Reformers were, of course, Martin Luther and most of his German collaborators; the Swiss Zwingli, Bullinger, Farel and Calvin; the English Latimer, John Bradford, John Jewel; the Scot John Knox. Nor can even so cursory a sketch omit to mention Bernardino Ochino and the Anabaptist Hiibmaier. In all these cases fuller details will be found in the articles bearing their names. Most of the Reformation preachers read their sermons, in contrast to the practice of earlier ages. The English Book of Homilies was compiled because competent preachers were comparatively rare.

The 17th-century preaching was, generally speaking, a continuation of that of the 16th century, the pattern having been set by the Council of Trent and by the principles and practice of the Reformers. In Spain and Germany, however, there was a decline of power, in marked contrast to the vigour manifested in France and England. In France, indeed, the Catholic pulpit now came to its perfection, stimulated, no doubt, by the toleration accorded to the Huguenots up to 1685 and by the patronage of Louis XIV. The names of Bossuet, Flechier, Bourdaloue, Fenelon and Massillon, all supreme preachers, despite a certain artificial pompousness, belong here, and on the reformed side are Jean Claude (d. 1687), author of the Essay on the Sermon, and Jacques Saurin (d. 1730). In England the rivalry was not between Catholic and Reformer, but between Anglican and Nonconformist, or, if we may use the wide but less correct term, Puritan. On the one hand are Andrewes, Hall, Chillingworth, Jeremy Taylor, Barrow and South; on the other Baxter, Calamy, the Goodwins, Howe, Owen, Bunyan, in each case but a few names out of many. The sermons of these men were largely scriptural, the cardinal evangelical truths being emphasized with reality and vigour, but with a tendency to abstract theology rather than concrete religion. The danger was felt by the university of Cambridge, which in 1674 passed a statute forbidding its preachers to read their sermons.

Germany, harassed by the Thirty Years' War and deadened by a rigid Lutheranism, can show little besides Andrea and Johann Arndt until the coming of the Pietists (see Pietism), A. H. Francke and Philipp Spencer, with Paul Gerhardt and his cousin Johann. The early years of the 18th century were a time of deadness as regards preaching. The Illumination in Germany and Deism in England were largely responsible for this, though. the names of J. A. Bengel (better known as a commentator), Zinzendorf, Butler and the Erskines helped to redeem the time from the reproach of being the dark age of Protestantism. In the Roman Catholic Church the greatest force was Bridaine in France, a popular preacher of high worth. But, generally speaking, there was no heart in preaching, sermons were unimpassioned, stilted and formal presentations of ethics and apologetics, seldom delivered extempore.

5. The Modern Period may be said to begin in 1738, the year in which John Wesley began his memorable work. Preaching once more was based on the Bible, which was expounded with force and earnestness, and though throughout the century there remained a good' many pulpiteers who produced nothing but solemn fudge, the example and stimulus given by Wesley and Whitefield were almost immeasurably productive. Whitefield was the greater orator, Wesley the better thinker; but, diverse in temperament as they were, they alike laid emphasis on openair preaching. In their train came the great field preachers of Wales, like John Elias and Christmas Evans, and later the Primitive Methodists, who by their camp meetings and itinerancies kept religious enthusiasm alive when Wesleyan Methodism was in peril of hardening. Meanwhile, in America the Puritan tradition, adapted to the new conditions, is represented by Cotton Mather, and later by Jonathan Edwards, the greatest preacher of his time and country. Whitefield's visits raised a band of pioneer preachers, cultured and uncultured, men who knew their Bibles but often interpreted them awry.

In the early 19th century the pulpit had a great power, especially in Wales, where it was the vehicle of almost every kind of knowledge. And it may be doubted whether, all in all, preaching has ever reached so uniformly high a level or been so powerful a force as during the 10th century, and this in spite of other forces similarly making for enlightenment and morality. It shared to the full in all the quickening that transformed so many departments of civilization during that epoch, and has been specially influenced by the missionary enterprise, the discoveries of science, the fuller knowledge of the Bible, the awakened zeal for social service. Modern preaching, like ancient preaching, has been so varied, depending, as it so largely does, on the personality of the preacher, that it is not possible to speak of its characteristics. Nor can one do more than enumerate a few outstanding modern names, exclusive of living preachers. In the Roman Catholic Church are the Italians Ventura and Curci, the Germans Diepenbrock and Foerster, the French Lacordaire, Dupanloup, Loyson (Pere Hyacinthe) and Henri Didon. Of Protestants, Germany produced Schleiermacher, Claus Harms, Tholuck and F. W. Krummacher; France, Vinet and the Monods. In England representative Anglican preachers were Newman (whose best preaching preceded his obedience to Rome), T. Arnold, F. W. Robertson, Liddon, Farrar, Magee; of Free Churchmen, T. Binney, Thomas Jones, R. W. Dale and Joseph Parker (Congregationalist); Robert Hall, C. H. Spurgeon and Alexander Maclaren (Baptists); W. M. Punshon, Hugh Price Hughes and Peter Mackenzie (Wesleyan); James Martineau (Unitarian). The Scottish Churches gave Edward Irving, Thos. Chalmers, R. S. Candlish, R. M. McCheyne and John Caird. In America, honoured names are those of W. E. Channing, Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Bushnell, Phillips Brooks, to mention only a few.

See M. Neale, Medieval Preachers and Preaching (1857); R. Rothe, Geschichte der Predigt vom Anfang bis auf Schleiermacher (1881); J. P. Mahaffy, Decay of Modern Preaching (1882); E. C. Durgan, A History of Preaching (1906), and preface to The Pulpit Encyclopaedia, vol. i. (1909); and the various volumes of the Yale Lectures on Preaching. Also SERMON. (A. J. G.)

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