This continues the list on how to Preach so as to convert nobody by Charles Finney. I preached what I considered a strongly evangelistic sermon last Sunday, but find several things about it in the list below. I recognize that some of the items in the list are culturally bound to Finney’s time, but not all. Maybe that was why there has been absolutely no response to the evangelistic sermon I preached last week.
11th. Give your sermon the form and substance of a flowing, beautifully written, but never-to-be-remembered essay; so that your hearers will say “it was a beautiful sermon,” but can give no further account of it.
12th. Avoid preaching doctrines that are offensive to the carnal mind, lest they should say of you, as they did of Christ, “This is a hard saying. Who can hear it?” and that you are injuring your influence.
13th. Denounce sin in the abstract, but make no allusion to the sins of your present audience.
14th. Keep the spirituality of God’s holy law, by which is the knowledge of sin, out of sight, lest the sinner should see his lost condition, and flee from the wrath to come.
15th. Preach the Gospel as a remedy, but conceal, or ignore the fatal disease of the sinner.
16th. Preach salvation by grace; but ignore the condemned and lost condition of the sinner, lest he should understand what you mean by grace, and feel his need of it.
17th. Preach Christ as an infinitely amiable and good-natured being; but ignore those scathing rebukes of sinners and hypocrites which so often made his hearers tremble.
18th. Avoid especially preaching to those who are present. Preach about sinners, and not to them. Say they, and not you, lest any one should make a personal and saving application of your subject.
19th. Aim to make your hearers pleased with themselves and pleased with you, and be careful not to wound the feelings of any one.
20th. Preach no searching sermons, lest you convict and convert the worldly members of your church.