In The Salvation of Souls, by Richard Bailey and Gregory Wills, I came across an almost humorous sermon by Edwards called “The Kind of Preaching People Want”. His main point, or “doctrine”, was this:
“If the business of ministers was to further the gratification of men’s lusts, they would be better much received by many than they are now.”
In an almost sarcastic tone, Edwards gives his main points. As you read them, ponder how much of this passes as preaching today, and pray with me that God would have mercy on us to restore our pulpits:
If ministers were sent to tell the people that they might gratify their lusts without danger; if they were sent to tell them that it was lawful for them to gratify their lusts; if they came from God with that message that men might freely use strong drink when they had a strong appetite to it, or
that it was lawful for persons to give a lease to the lusts of uncleanness, and that they might allow of unclean practices and might freely enjoy their lascivious pleasures, how eagerly would they be listened to by some, and what good attention would they give.
If ministers were sent to offer men a savior that countenanced and encouraged men’s lusts; if ministers were sent to tell the people that Christ, out of love to men, was desirous that they should have more liberty to enjoy their sinful pleasures, and that he came into the world for that end, to lay down his life to purchase for men a dispensation for sinning and an indulgence that they might gratify their strong and violent carnal appetites with impunity, and that God would not be angry with them for so doing, nor punish them for it, he would appear to them then a thousand times so glorious a savior as he does now… Or if ministers were sent to offer Christ only in one of his offices and not in others; if they were to preach Christ only in his priestly office and as a savior from the punishment of sin, and not also in his kingly office as a Savior from the power and dominion of sin, and the being [a King] and a Lord to rule in us and over us, they would by many be much better received than they are now.
If ministers were sent to direct men how they might fulfill their lusts, they would be much better received by many than they are now. For instance, if ministers were sent to direct people how they might gratify their covetousness, and to tell them of means by which they might grow rich and get abundance of the world, they would be a great deal better received and hearkened to than they are now. They would listen to such directions as these with much greater diligence than they do when the minister directs them how they may get heaven and may obtain everlasting riches…If some persons could learn by ministers how to get fine clothes, so as to make a finer show than their fellows, they would hear with greater pleasure and a greater disposition to practice than when the minister tells them how they may be clothed with the righteousness of Christ and may have the ornaments of the graces of God’s Spirit and may hereafter come to shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of God.
Some would like ministers better if they would countenance theft scandalous indulgences of their lusts rather than to fulfill the rules of Christ with regard to them. They would like it much better to have their wickedness winked at and approved than to have the minister fulfill the rule in openly reproving and rebuking such practices, exercising Christ’s discipline for the reforming and humbling [of] them and bearing testimony against such things.
If ministers were sent to offer men a carnal and sensual heaven, they would be much better received by many than they are. It is a dull story to men to tell them of pure, spiritual pleasures, of holy delights, of seeing and enjoying God, of enjoying communion with Christ, of spending an eternity in serving and praising God and the Lamb. They do not understand these things. They have no taste nor relish of them. They have no appetite to such a kind of happiness. It would please them a great deal better if ministers were sent to offer to them such a paradise as the Mahometans [re: Muslims] expect—a heaven of carnal delights where they shall eat and drink and have all the sensual
pleasures that they can wish for.