This is a surprisingly profitable little book, though not altogether written in our style. The author is a Church of England clergyman.
Mr Cheeseman stresses the importance of what the title states: that in Reformed worship preaching must have the priority - a view unpopular in many circles today. He contends for the power there is in God's Word when used by the Holy Spirit.
There are many very helpful suggestions, especially for young preachers - some of them very practical. For instance:
"Pray that the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible passage set before you will help you understand it."
"Always carry your congregations with you into your study!"
"Do not use lots of long words."
"Do not assume an affected pulpit voice like so many do when they climb the pulpit stairs ÔÇª Avoid the monotone and the 'parsonical drone.'"
The author specially emphases the life of the preacher: "Nobody can be a good preacher unless he is a good servant of Jesus Christ."
Mention is made of what used to be an everyday expression fifty years ago, "the quiet time": "The daily 'quiet time,' as it used to be called, seems to have gone out of fashion in some evangelical circles today."
Mr Cheeseman issues a solemn warning:
"Our trouble stems from our natural desire to be popular; there is something in us that wants to please others. But this can lead to the strong temptation to water down the message and avoid those aspects of the gospel that make for disturbing or uncomfortable listening. We can easily imagine that to make our message palatable and acceptable and even just to receive a hearing, we must end-trim and alter our message.
"How are we to avoid becoming men-pleasers? The answer is simple: we need to go into the pulpit with an awesome awareness that God, and God alone, is the one whom we are to please and to whom we are ultimately accountable."
The conclusion of the book is:
"Surely our great desire as preachers must be that our message is proclaimed, not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost ÔÇª In order to receive His power we must first of all acknowledge our own weakness and helplessness."
The value of this little book is not to be estimated by its size.
B A Ramsbottom
Gospel Standard Magazine