Sermon Illustrations

Illustrations in Preaching, Part 3

Third Series of Lectures to My Students

The Art of Illustration: Being Addresses Delivered ot the students of The Pastor’s College, Metropolitan Tabernacle

By C. H. Spurgeon, 1905

Lecture 1: Illustrations in Preaching [Continued. Read the series.]

Illustrations tend to enliven an audience and quicken attentions. Windows, when they will open, which, alas, is not often the case in our places of worship, are a great blessing by refreshing and reviving the audience with a little pure air, and arousing the poor mortals who are rendered sleepy by the stagnant atmosphere. A window should, according to its name, be a wind-door, through which a breath of air may visit the audience; even so, an original figure, a noble image, a quaint comparison, a rich allegory, should open upon our hearers a breeze of happy thought, which will pass over them like life-giving breath, arousing them from their apathy, and quickening their faculties to receive the truth.

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Illustrations in Preaching, Part 2

Third Series of Lectures to My Students

The Art of Illustration: Being Addresses Delivered ot the students of The Pastor’s College, Metropolitan Tabernacle

By C. H. Spurgeon, 1905

Lecture 1: Illustrations in Preaching [Continued. Read the series.]

Windows greatly add to the pleasure and agreeableness of a habitation, and so do illustrations make a sermon pleasurable and interesting. A building without windows would be a prison rather than a house, for it would be quite dark, and no one would care to take it upon lease; and, in the same way, a discourse without a parable is prosy and dull, and involves a grievous weariness of the flesh.

The preacher in Solomon’s Ecclesiastes “sought to find out acceptable words,” or, as the Hebrew has it, “words of delight”: surely, figures and comparisons are delectable to our hearers. Let us not deny them the salt of parable with the meat of doctrine. Our congregations hear us with pleasure when we give them a fair measure of imagery: when an anecdote is being told they rest, take breath, and give play to their imaginations, and thus prepare themselves for the sterner work which lies before them in listening to our profounder expositions.

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Illustrations in Preaching, Part 1

Third Series of Lectures to My Students

The Art of Illustration: Being Addresses Delivered ot the students of The Pastor’s College, Metropolitan Tabernacle

By C. H. Spurgeon, 1905*

Lecture 1: Illustrations in Preaching

The topic now before us is the use of illustrations in our sermons. Perhaps we shall best subserve our purpose by working out an illustration in the present address; for there is no better way of teaching the art of pottery than by making a pot. Quaint ‘Thomas Fuller says, “reasons are the pillars of the fabric of a sermon; but similitudes are the windows which give the best lights.” The comparison is happy and suggestive, and we will build up our discourse under its direction.

The chief reason for the construction of windows in a house is, as Fuller says, to let in light. Parables, similes, and metaphors have that effect; and hence we use them to illustrate our subject, or, in other words, to “brighten it with light,” for that is Dr. Johnson’s literal, rendering of the word illustrate.

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Principles of Teaching - Effective Illustrating

Every good craftsman has a toolbox—perhaps more than one. When there is a job to be done, a skilled craftsman does not assess the job primarily based on what tools can be used to get the job done. Instead, the focus is on what tools are needed in order to get the job done.

Of course, every now and then, the craftsman might acquire a new and wonderful tool that he can’t wait to use. Perhaps on those joyous occasions the craftsman might slightly depart from the most efficient path in order to add and enjoy the new wrinkle. In those instances, often the goal has changed from accomplishing a task to personal enjoyment.

If the craftsman is astute, he might be thinking with the long term in view—“If I learn how to incorporate this new tool now, on a project for which it is not really necessary, then when I really do need it, I will be comfortable and practiced, and will be better able to use it.” In either case, there are reasons that particular tools are used, and the skilled craftsman should be deliberate in those reasons.

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