Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 8-9

Chapter 8- The Voice

“You are not singers, but preachers: your voice is but a secondary matter…A trumpet need not be made of silver, a ram’s horn will suffice; but it must be able to endure rough usage, for trumpets are for war’s conflicts, not for the drawing-rooms of fashion.”

There were many instances when the printed text failed to convey the hilarity of Spurgeon’s teaching as he does impressions of several notorious bad voices of preachers in his day!

“It is impossible to hear a man who crawls along at a mile an hour.  One word to-day and one to-morrow is a kind of slow-fire which martyrs only could enjoy.”  (This reminds me of one person in my preaching class in seminary who had a ton of good thoughts, but I found myself writing on each evaluation for him “Speed up!”)

“Be a little economical with that enormous volume of sound. Do not give your hearers head-aches when you mean to give them heart-aches.”

Much of his advice was for preachers to simply be themselves and talk naturally!  A few quotes on that.

“Be, indeed, just what every common-sense person is in his speech when he talks naturally, pleads vehementally, whispers confidentially, appeals plaintively, or publishes distinctly.”

“Indeed, all mimicry is in the pulpit near akin to an unpardonable sin.”

“In everything, be natural.”

A great poem here-“

It is an ill case when the preacher…

‘Leaves his hearers perplex’d

Twixt the two to determine:

‘Watch and pray’ says the text,

‘Go to sleep,” says the sermon.”

“Take heart, young brother, persevere, and God, nature, and practice will help you.”

Lecture 9 is on the “Attention!”, specifically the keeping thereof!

“There are preachers who care very little whether they are attended to or not; so long as they can hold on through the allotted time it is of very small importance to them whether their people hear for eternity, or hear in vain: the sooner such ministers sleep in the churchyard and preach by the verse on their gravestones the better.”

“We want all eyes fixed upon us and all ears open to us.  To me it is an annoyance if even a blind man does not look at me with his face.”

“The minister who recommended the old lady to take snuff in order to keep from dozing was very properly rebuked by her reply—that if he would put more snuff into the sermon she would be awake enough.”

“The next best thing to the grace of God for a preacher is oxygen.  Pray that the windows of heaven may be opened, but begin by opening the windows of your meeting-house.” (Or turn up the A/C!)

Regarding speaking to your audience– “Go up to his level if he is a poor man; go down to his understanding if he is an educated person.”  (Spurgeon goes on to comment about the difficulty in speaking to the average person and working hard to make deep truths understandable for all, just like Jesus’ teaching.)

“Do not make the introduction too long.  It is always a pity to build a great porch to a little house.”

“If you ask me how you may shorten your sermons, I should say, study them better.  Spend more time in the study that you may need less in the pulpit.  We are generally longest when we have least to say.”

“If you need another direction for winning attention, I should say, be interested yourself, and you will interest others.”

“Remember, however, that nothing will avail if you go to sleep yourself while you are preaching.”

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you! You have renewed my interest in Spurgeon. I had bought a CD of his works awhile back and hadn’t shown much interest afterward. It came with a 3 in 1 deal and I was more interested in one of the others. Thanks again and God bless!

    • You’re welcome. That’s part of my reason for typing in all these quotes–maybe peak a little interest in the guy. I also am largely doing it for myself, as I knew I would not have the discipline to make it through the entire work (which has been very rewarding) if I didn’t incorporate something like blogging. I should have a few more chapters up this week at some point!

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