Monday, August 10, 2009

Alexander Campbell’s Recommended Qualifications for Preaching

Alexander CampbellI am working on putting a number of early Stone-Campbell resources into Libronix format so they can be incorporated into Logos software.  I have produced a couple dozen, so far. (See

In the process I was working on Robert Richardson’s Memoirs of Alexander Campbell and came across an interesting list for preachers.   Campbell had kept copious notes on reading that he did.  In one place he had notes from Johnson's "Lives of the Poets," and Dr. Beattie's "Ethics."

Richardson notes:

“Among these, we have much upon the principles of Law and Civil Government, Right, Obligation, Justice, etc., also upon Reasoning and Evidence, and style of composition, historical, rhetorical, etc. Under the latter head he particular to record the following qualifications, "as necessary to attain excellence in the composing pronouncing of sermons:"

      "1. The preacher must be a man of piety, and one who has the instruction and salvation of mankind sincerely at heart.

      "2. A man of modest and simple manners, and in his public performances and general behavior must conduct himself so as to make his people sensible that he has their temporal and eternal welfare more at heart than anything else.

      "3. He must be well instructed in morality and religion, and in the original tongues in which the Scriptures are written, for without them he can hardly be qualified to explain Scripture or to teach religion and morality.

      "4. He must be such a proficient in his own language, as to be able to express every doctrine and precept with the utmost simplicity, and without anything in his diction either finical on the one hand or vulgar on the other.

      "5. A sermon should be composed with regularity and unity of design, so that all its parts may have a mutual and natural connection, and it should not consist of many heads, neither should it be very long. [Note: Campbell would preach for an hour and a half when at his home church and often up to three hours when a visiting preacher at another church.  Obviously not “very long” is a relative concept.]

      "6. A sermon ought to be pronounced with gravity, modesty and meekness, and so as to be distinctly heard by all the audience.

      "Let the preacher, therefore, accustom himself to articulate slowly and deliver the words with a distinct voice, and without artificial attitudes or motions or any other affectation."

      These rules are here inserted, because he seems to have been impressed by their justness, and to have modeled himself by them in his future course as a preacher.

Robert Richardson. Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, Volume I. (1868).  p. 136-7.


Preachers today would do well if we lived up to such standards. 

1 comment:

David said...


It's David Buckham from many of the Logos Forums. If I wanted to talk with you about some stuff related to Restoration Movement...glean from some of your wisdom, is there an email address or phone number I could contact you at?

If you want, check my blog and click the google voice link on the right. It can connect you to my phone. http://longhollowchristian DOT blogspot DOT com/

I am giving you this info in this way in case there are any trolling bots that check your sight.

As I mentioned in one of the News Groups, I am pup in the ministry (31 years old, ordained in 2000 been and a little over a year ago transitioned to the preaching ministry).

all about Christ,
David Buckham

Visits Since Dec. 11, 2007