Stuart Mitchell was a Presbyterian minister in various places across the Northeast. While pastoring a congregation in Bloomsburg PA he wrote a small, but delightful book about Jonah. I have an first edition copy which is still in splendid condition – leather still supple and pages crisp. There something special when a pastor writes a book that is an outpouring of his personal ministry to his people. Such is Jonah: The Self-Willed Prophet. I imagine he preaching sermons through Jonah to the people in his care and finding he could offer them continued shepherding he wrote a book on the same material. He dedicated the book to his congregation.
In our Sunday Bible study we are considering how sermons are made and what is the purpose of sermons. He are some well crafted words from Pastor Mitchell on this very topic. May they encourage you too.
“…the Christian minister, though not so particularly guided in his words as the Prophets and Apostles, is happily not left to his own discretion to choose what system of doctrine he shall teach. He is to preach not whatever he or his fellow-men may think beneficial, but the Word – the revelation given him by God. He is not to add to it nor take from it; and the Scripture itself shows what truths are to be made most prominent and frequent in his teaching. When he does this, he preaches the preaching that God bids him and may leave the results with God, free from personal anxiety.
“If he alters it, whether to explain away what may seem difficult to the unbelieving intellect or to soften down what may seem severe to the ungodly heart, he takes upon himself a double responsibility – responsibility for the salvation of the souls entrusted to him and responsibility for his own disobedience.”
(Stuart Mitchell, Jonah: The Self-Willed Prophet, 1875, p.161)