Clarence E. Macartney is rightfully regarded as one of the great preachers of the twentieth century. During forty-eight years of ministry following his graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1905, he held three pastorates in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Paterson, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. His sermons—biblical, person-oriented, and preached without notes—were marked by meaty illustrations from literature and history, and especially stories of the Civil War, on which he was an expert. His outstanding ability as a homiletician is evident in his many published sermons.
Dr. Macartney’s keen interest in young ministers and their preaching led him to write “Suggestions to Students in the Field of Homiletics.” These suggestions, recently brought to light by Professor Harry E. Farra of Geneva College, are worthy of consideration by all for whom preaching is both a profession and a passion.
1. Methods of Work
Early in my ministry I adopted the plan of keeping forenoons for study and reading. This I have adhered to throughout my ministry.
General reading in history, biography, and literature has been a great help in building a background for preaching. It has been my custom to make notes in the margins of my books and then note the reference in a reference file. Through the years I have built up in this way a wealth of references for suggestive reading or illustration of almost any subject. In my first years in the ministry I went carefully through most of the English poets and their biographies.
The minister ought to read regularly one of the best newspapers. The New York Times is the one I read.
There are several steps in composing a sermon. First, turning the theme over in one’s mind. Then longhand notes, sometimes several ...1
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