The following extended comment by Denney on the need to preach the word ‘unadorned’ is a fitting conclusion to this pen portrait of the preachers whose varied ministries impacted me so greatly. What he writes I saw and heard (notice the verbs and their order) in my five men.
How little Jesus had of all that churches are tempted to trust in now! How little there is in the gospels about methods and apparatus! … we may well believe that He would look with more than amazement upon the importance which many of His disciples now attach to such things. ‘He spake the word unto them,’ that was all. The trust of the church in other things is really a distrust of the truth, and unwillingness to believe that its power lies in itself, a desire to have something more irresistible than truth to plead truth’s cause; and all these are modes of atheism … It is not only a mistake, but a sin, to trust attractions for the ear and the eye, and to draw people to the church by the same methods by which they are drawn to a place of entertainment.
What the evangelist calls ‘the Word’—the spiritual truth, the message of the Father and His Kingdom—spoken in the Spirit and enforced by the Spirit, told by faith and heard by faith—is our only real resource, and we must not be ashamed of its simplicity. (James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London: Holder and Stoughton, 1911), pp. 197-198.)
Ian Hamilton. Preaching and Preachers (Banner of Truth Magazine, May 2023), p. 28.