The story behind Spurgeon's sermons
As Spurgeon did not write out his sermons, but rather preached from very brief notes [a facsimile of notes for a sermons on Luke II. 10-12 is found on page 69 of volume IV of his Autobiography (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1900)], there was a need for a professional shorthand writer's to take down the sermon as preached if anything was to be published. This was done, through most of his ministry not only for the Sunday morning sermons, but for those he preached both Sunday and Thursday evenings as well. These latter two were held in reserve and the sermon preached Sunday morning was the one regularly printed week by week.
In order to accomplish this weekly publication, the 'reporter' who had taken down the sermon transcribed it into manuscript form and the result (usually some 40 to 50 pages) was delivered to Spurgeon the same day. Very occasionally when he was to be away on Monday he was compelled to revise the sermon before going to bed, but ordinarily this was his first work on Monday morning. This was no mere correction of minor detail, but involved extensive amendment. Thus not only words are replaced, but sentences, paragraphs and even pages. His wife characterizes it as "always a labour of love, yet...a labour...." The weekly sermon had to be ready in the hands of his publishers and printed by Thursday morning and he was not willing that it should represent anything less than his best ["up to the highest mark", as his wife phrases it]. The task was greater if he had to lengthen or reduce it, as each sermon had to fill 12 pages. When the revisions were completed (usually the sermons went, by messenger, to Passmore & Alabaster in 2 or even 3 segments), galleys were produced and returned for further correction.
- "Volumes have been written laying down the mechanics and taste of sermon-making, until we have become possessed with the idea that this scaffolding is the building. The young preacher has been taught to lay out all his strength on the form, taste, and beauty of his sermon as a mechanical and intellectual product. We have thereby cultivated a vicious taste among the people and raised the clamor for talent instead of grace, eloquence instead of piety, rhetoric instead of revelation, reputation and brilliancy instead of holiness. By it we have lost the true idea of preaching, lost preaching power, lost pungent conviction for sin, lost the rich experience and elevated Christian character, lost the authority over consciences and lives which always results from genuine preaching."
- The idea was to tell the people, "I received this message from the Lord, and as I am preaching, the Holy Spirit will give me the words that I am to say this morning." I have heard that a few times over my life time. Sounded good.
- When I first started out preaching I had no idea how to receive the message from the Holy Spirit. I remember in Seminary I asked a professor, "Pastor that was a wonderful message, can you tell me how you came up with that sermon?" Good question, I thought, from a seminary student that wanted to know how to preach." Here is what he said, "Go to your dorm and open your Bible, and ask the Lord to give you a sermon." Now how was that for the correct way of learning how to preach?
At some point in this process, as a young person, I thought, I want to study the Bible. I want to learn what God is saying in the Bible. And I knew I needed to study from those who I believed knew the Bible. And since I loved to write what I was learning, I would write down what I was reading.
THIS IS ALREADY TOO LONG, AS ARE MY SERMONS, SO I WILL CONTINUE LATER.