Review - Sermons and Addresses, by John A. Broadus

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(Reprinted with permission from As I See It, Doug’s monthly electronic magazine. The article appears here with some editing. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at

As noted in our review of John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy, edited by David S. Dockery and Roger D. Duke in the previous issue of AISI (12:8), John Albert Broadus (1827-1895) was the quintessential Baptist leader in America in the second half of the 19th century. And though Broadus was famous as a teacher of homiletics, and was very much in demand as a preacher and public speaker, yet he published only one book of his sermons and addresses. This is no doubt in large measure due to his practice of almost always speaking extemporaneously, without manuscript and with only brief notes, if any. There are twenty-one messages in all here, some from as early as the 1850s when, at barely thirty years old, Broadus pastored in Charlottesville, Virginia; some are from as late as 1886, the year of publication.

The sermons, the first eleven of the twenty-one messages, can be characterized as good to fair, though none was what I would call striking or outstanding. The addresses are to me of greater interest, and include such subjects as “Ministerial education,” “American Baptist Ministry in A. D. 1774” (which gives brief biographical accounts of numerous notable colonial era Baptist preachers), “College Education for Men of Business,” and “Education in Athens.” Also included are several memorial addresses/funeral sermons, including those for Dr. Gessner Harrison (Broadus’ professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Virginia, and his first father-in-law), G. W. Riggan (a promising young OT professor at Southern Baptist Seminary who died barely into his 30s), and A. M. Poindexter (a prominent Virginia Baptist preacher of the 19th century).

There are apparently numerous editions of this book by several publishers, but all seem to be identical in contents and pagination (it is a fairly easy volume to find through internet book dealers). The similarly named volume, Favorite Sermons of John A. Broadus, edited by Vernon L. Stanfield (New York: Harper and Bros.; 147 pp.), contains reprints of just four sermons from the 1886 volume, eight additional sermons which Broadus left in manuscript at his death, and his sermon notes on twelve more sermons (according to Stanfield, Broadus left in manuscript notes to more than 300 sermons).

Some quotations from Sermons and Addresses

“It is easy to talk nonsense on the subject of church music. It is very difficult to talk wisely. But I think we sometimes forget in our time that there is a distinction between secular and sacred music. I have seen places where they did not seem to know there was such a distinction.” (p. 18)

“Mr. Spurgeon tells us that he requests his teachers, and his wife, and various other friends to hunt up illustrations for him. He asks them, whenever they have come across anything good in reading or in conversation that strike them as good, to write it down and let him have it, and whenever he sees a fit opportunity he makes a point of it.” (p. 41)

“Our advocate [Jesus] does not argue that we are innocent, but confessing our guilt, pleads for mercy to us; and he does not present our merits as a reason why mercy should be shown us, but his merits…. And God is made propitious, favorable to us, not when he is willing to save, but when it is made right that he should save us…” (pp. 77, 78)

“Bearing in mind the difference between the pleading of our great Advocate and any parallel which human affairs present, we may look at a story of Grecian history, which has been often used to illustrate the Savior’s intercession. The poet Aeschylus had incurred the displeasure of the Athenians. He was on trial before the great popular tribunal, consisting of many hundreds of citizens, and was about to be condemned. But Aeschylus had a brother, who had lost an arm in battle—in the great battle of Salamis, where the Greeks fought for their existence against the Persian aggressors. This brother came into court, and did not speak words of entreaty, but letting fall his mantle, he showed the stump of his arm, lost in his country’s defense, and there stood until the Athenians relented, and Aeschylus was suffered to go free. So, my brethren, imperfect and unworthy as is the illustration, so we may conceive that when we are about to be condemned, and justly condemned for our sins, our glorious Brother stands up in our behalf, and does not need to speak a word, but only to show where he was wounded on the cross—
Five bleeding wounds he bears,
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers,
They strongly speak for me;
’Forgive him, O forgive,’ they cry,
’Nor let the ransomed sinner die!’” (pp. 78, 79)

“We must be, ought to be, intensely dissatisfied with ourselves; but let us be satisfied with our Savior, and have peace with God through him; not content with the idea of remaining such as we are, but, seeing that the same Gospel which offers us forgiveness and acceptance offers us also a genuine renewal through our Lord Jesus Christ, and promises that finally we shall be made holy, as God is holy, shall indeed be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.” (pp. 94-5)

“Oh, ye people that have to do with the world’s young men, you never know what some little word you speak is going to do I shaping the whole character and controlling the whole life of the man who walks by your side!” (p. 172)

“But, in one sense, every man is self-educated who is ever really educated at all.” (p. 251)

“We remember, gentlemen, those of us particularly who were deficient in early advantages, the delusive hope of boyhood, that there would come a time when we should have read all books, and become masters of all knowledge. We learned long ago that this can never be; yet often one re-awakes to fresh disappointment, and finds that he has been dreaming that sweet dream of childhood still. It is painful to think that we must live on and die, and leave many a wide field of human knowledge untraversed and unknown. This longing to learn everything is in itself a noble element of our nature, and leads to noble results; but it requires to be checked by the stern voice of duty.” (pp. 294-295)

“In every grade of teaching it is perhaps even more important to consider what your teacher is than what he knows.” (p. 346)

“[God] can determine better than we, in what ways we shall be most useful. He knows whether it is best for us to labor in one part of his vineyard or another, in one or another sphere and method of Christian exertion.” (p. 353)

“Whatever is worth teaching at all is worth teaching well; and there is no really good teaching without an enthusiastic interest in the subject, and a passionate desire to give the pupil all possible assistance.” (p. 360)

Doug Kutilek is the editor of, a website dedicated to exposing and refuting the many errors of KJVOism and has been researching and writing in the area of Bible texts and versions for more than 35 years. He has a B.A. in Bible from Baptist Bible College (Springfield, Mo.), an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati; and completed all requirements for a Ph.D. except the dissertation); and a Th.M. in Bible exposition from Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, Minn.). His writings have appeared in numerous publications including The Biblical Evangelist, The Baptist Bible Tribune, The Baptist Preacher’s Journal, Frontline, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society and The Wichita Eagle. The father of four grown children and four granddaughters, he resides with his wife Naomi near Wichita, Kansas.