Sturtevant on Beddome's Preaching 1

In his book The Preacher's Manual: a course of lectures on preaching S T Sturtevant refers several times to sermons by Beddome. He notes

1. An example of natural divisipn

From Beddome, on Rev. iii. 20.
1. If any man hear my voice-(with three subdivisions.)
II. And open the door--(with three ditto.)
III. I will come in to him---(with three ditto.)
IV. I will sup with him, and he with me.

2. Observational preaching

The last example consisted of three observations from a long text; the one I will now give consists of several observations from a short text. It is by Beddome, on Luke vii. 42: “And when they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both.” The introduction embraces a few remarks on the fact that we are all debtors to God. The following observations form the outline :

1. We observe that it is an unspeakable mercy to have our sins forgiven; Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. This is the principal blessing of the covenant of grace, without which no temporal blessing can be truly enjoyed; it is peculiar, comprehensive, permanent, and complete,

II. It is the sole prerogative of God to forgive sins. Ministers can forgive sins only declaratively, showing from scripture who are the proper objects of forgiveness. The apostles never said to any one “ Thy sins are forgiven." Whatever other benefits they conferred by their power of working miracles, this belonged properly to Jehovah; Isaiah xliii. 25. Hence the saints have ever sought the manifestation of pardon from God only; Ps. li.

III. Those whom God forgives have nothing to pay. The whole creation has become insolvent. No future obedience can avail. It is a vain pretence that we have not sinned so much as others. If we owe fifty or five hundred pence, it is in vain to say, “Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all :” the safest way is to acknowledge that we have nothing to pay, and of this God always convinces his people.

IV. Those whose sins are pardoned are first brought to see that they have nothing to pay. "I through the law am dead to the law." I expect nothing from it in a way of salvation.

V. The forgiveness of sins is all of grace; Micah vii. 18. The gift of Christ is a gift of grace; his offering for sin was an act of grace.

VI. The forgiveness of sins tends to the glory of God. “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of his grace." We are saved that we should be to the praise and glory of his grace.

Observations should conform to their title as strictly as possible. They should not be, as in the example just finished, argumentative discussions of doctrinal points: even the acknowledged excellence of such points does not justify their introduction in that form. They are of too important a character to be properly discussed in a single discourse; whereas observations, though numerous, may be dismissed with brief illustration. It is true Mr. Beddome calls these by the term remarks, but this does not invalidate the objection.
The following example is not liable to the same objections. Acts xi. 23 : “ Who, when he had come, and had seen the grace of God, was glad,” &c.

The exordium settles the meaning of the word grace in the text.

I. We observe that where the grace of God is, it will be seen. Like its divine Author, grace in its own nature is invisible, but is manifest in its effects. It is a seed that springs up--a light that shines---fire that burns; it illumines the understanding, sanctifies the will, subdues the heart. In this manner the Christian holds forth the word of life. Abating something for hypocrisy, it is seen in the countenance, it shines in conversation, and is manifested by actions.

II. These appearances are matter of joy to Christians, and especially to faithful ministers. Barnabas rejoiced that idolators had become real Christians, genuine dis. ciples, honourable additions to Christ's kingdom. At such things angels rejoice. Paul says, "What is our joy? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming! For you are our glory and joy,” i Thess. ii. 19, 20.

I have also selected from the same author the outline of another discourse illustrative of the observational mode of discussion, founded on Acts ix. 4: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

I. It is the general character of unconverted men to be of a persecuting spirit. Luther says: "Cain will kill Abel to the end of the world ; Ishmael will persecute Isaac; the seed of the serpent, the seed of the woman."

II. Christ has his eye upon persecutors. Nothing could be more piercing than Christ's view of Saul, when he was travelling, full of fury, to Damascus.

III. The kindness or injury done to Christ's people, Christ considers as done to himself. “Why persecutest thou me?" His poor disciples at Damascus were as the apple of his eye. Let persecutors think of this and tremble.

IV. Christ's call to the persecutor was to convince him of sin, as the first step to conversion. We know the effects which followed : he was deeply humbled, and cried, What wouldst thou have me to do?

V. The calls of Christ are earnest and particular. This call was to Saul, to Saul of Tarsus, not to those that were with him. Thus it was also in the case of Zaccheus, Luke xix. In the present day, while the minister is addressing the whole congregation, Christ by his Spirit says to such a particular sinner, “Thou art the man ?”

VI. Persecution is a great sin; and, when brought home to the conscience, will be found to be so. Paul never forgot it; 1 Tim. i. 13.

VII. Jesus Christ condescends to reason with Saul: “Why persecutest thou me?” 1. Is there any reason on my part? 2. Is there any reason on my people's part? 3. Is there any reason on thy part? Will such conduct answer the end thou proposest to thyself? Canst thou exterminate what I resolve to plant? Canst thou wage war with an arm like mine? Is it not hard for thee to kick against the pricks?

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