John Owen (1616-1683): Preaching from the heart

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“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. To bring our heads to preach, is but to fill our minds and memories with some notions of truth, of our own or other men, and speak them out to give satisfaction to ourselves and others: this is very easy. But to bring our hearts to preach, is to be transformed into the power of these truths; or to find the power of them, both before, in fashioning our minds and hearts, and in delivering of them, that we may have benefit; and to be acted with zeal for God and compassion to the souls of men. 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.”

– John Owen (1616-1683), “The Duty of a Pastor,” Works, 9:455

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