John Brown of Haddington (1722–1787) is an old giant of Scottish theology that has been mostly lost to history. In the late 1800s, William Blaikie said that Brown “towered above his fellows.” Reformation Heritage is trying to retrieve Brown’s legacy by republishing his Systematic Theology and his Counsel to Gospel Ministers. If you’ve never read Brown before, let me see if I can convince you to take up and read.
To do that, let’s turn to his letters on “Directions with Respect to Preaching the Gospel, and Administering the Sacraments.” Tucked away in Letter 1 of Part 3 are Brown’s rules for gospel preaching. Are these not as relevant today as they were two hundred years ago?
7 Rules for Preachers
- Keep in view that it is the gospel you are preaching, and it is God ordained.
- Found the sermon on the Scripture as your text and proof.
- Insist chiefly on the greater points of revelation concerning Jesus Christ, faith in him, and repentance toward God through him.
- Make application that it may awaken, and “captivate their affections to Christ.”
- Let your language be adapted to that of the hearers, and let it be scriptural. Do not be philosophical.
- Avoid anything which will detract, for example, speaking too quickly, or indistinctly, poor pronunciation, awkward gestures, wandering from the subject, useless quotations, expressions which would promote laughter. Also do not adhere too scrupulously to your notes.
- Never draw attention and focus upon your honors. You are to promote the glory of Christ.