John Owen on Preaching

John Owen ArrivesIf you’ve read my posts you will know that at the end of November John Owen arrived at 501 Green. I was just reading the sermons in volume nine of The Works of John Owen, “Sermons to the Church” and spotted this. Across the centuries, the “prince of the English divines” describes the same experience I have in prayer, study of the Scriptures and preaching that I wrote of yesterday. What a way to end 2012! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13.8).

“I think, truly, that no man preaches that sermon well to others that doth not first preach it to his own heart. He who doth not feed on, digest, and thrive by, what he prepares for his people, he may give them poison, as far as he knows; for, unless he find the power of it in his own heart, he cannot have any ground of confidence that it will have power in the heart of others. It is an easier thing to bring our heads to preach than our hearts to preach.” Emphasis original. (Owen, “The Duty of a Pastor,” Works, 9:455).

“A man may preach every day in the week and not have his heart engaged once. This hath lost us powerful preaching in the world, and set up, instead of it, quaint orations; for such men never seek after experience in their own hearts: and so it is come to pass, that some men’s preaching and some men’s not preaching, have lost us the power of what we call the ministry; that though there be twenty or thirty thousand in orders, yet the nations perishes for want of knowledge, and is overwhelmed in all manner of sins, and not delivered from them unto this day” (Owen, “The Duty of a Pastor,” Works, 9:455).

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