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At the request of Rev. T. Harwood Pattison, Professor of Homiletics at the Rochester Theological Seminary, Alexander McLaren wrote a letter to the students of that institution in the year 1900.

"I sometimes think that a verse in one of the Psalms carries the whole pith of homiletics -- 'while I was musing the fire burned, then spake I with my tongue.'  Patient meditation, resulting in kindled emotion and the flashing up of truth into warmth and light, and then -- and not 'til then -- the rush of speech 'moved by the Holy Ghost' -- these are the processes which will make sermons live things with hands and feet, as Luther's words were said to be. 'Then spake I,' -- not 'then sate I down at my desk and wrote it all down to be majestically read out of a manuscript in a leather case.'

"May I add another text, which contains as complete a description of the contents of preaching as the Psalm does of its genesis? 'Whom we preach' -- there is the evangelistic element, which is foundation of all, and is proclamation with the loud voice, the curt force, the plain speech of a herald; and there is, too, the theme, namely, the Person, not a set of doctrines, but, on the other hand, a Person Whom we can know only by doctrines, and whom, if we know we shall surely have some doctrine concerning. 'Warning every man' -- there is the ethical side of preaching; 'and teaching every man' -- there is the educational aspect of the Christian ministry. These three must never be separated, and he is the best minister of Jesus Christ who keeps the proportion between them most clearly in his mind, and braids all the strands together in his ministry into a 'three-fold cord, not quickly broken.' May the Rochester students attain to that ideal!"

Signed: Alexander McLaren

Many years ago, our homiletics professor, Rev. L. A. Perkins, shared with us Charles Spurgeon's formula for the inspiration and preparation of sermons:

"Take the text into the closet and shut the door. Hold it at arm's length and say to it, 'I will not let thee go except thou dost bless me."

Bishop William A. Quayle gave the following definition of a sermon"

"The sermon is two hands, sinewy, wounded, blood drenched and bleeding, yet, two hands lifting, lifting, lifting at a human soul to lift it up where it might catch sight of the cross of God."

Bishop Quayle went on to write,

"Preaching is the art of making a preacher and delivering that." "A greater preacher like Paul did not fashion his speech, but fashioned himself". . ."