Preaching and its purpose
The Exiled Preacher quotes John Owen discussing the worship of images with Franciscan Friar John Vincent Cane in A Vindication of the Animadversions of Fiat Lux. His opponent alleged that the one end of preaching is to “work upon the minds of men so as to stir up their affections.” Owen exposes the hopeless inadequacy of such a definition in fairly plain terms:
Did never any man inform you that the one end of preaching the word was to regenerate the whole souls of men, and to beget them anew unto God? that it was also to open their eyes, and to illuminate them with the saving knowledge of God in Christ? that it was to beget and increase faith in them? that it was to be a means of their growth in grace, and in the knowledge of God? that the word preached is “profitable for reproof, correction, doctrine, and instruction in righteousness?” that it is appointed as the great means of working the souls of men into a likeness and conformity unto the Lord Jesus, or the changing of them into his image? that it is appointed for the refreshment of the weary , and consolation of the sorrowful, and making wise the simple?
Did you never hear that the word preached hath its effect upon the understanding and will as well as upon the affections, and upon these consequently only unto its efficacy on them, if they are not deluded? Is growth in knowledge, faith, grace, holiness, conformity to Christ, communion with God, – for which end the word is commanded to be preached, – nothing at all with you? Is being made wise in the mystery of the love of God in Christ, to have an insight into, and some understanding of, the unsearchable treasures of his grace, and by all this the building up of souls in their most holy faith, of no value with you?
Are you a stranger unto these things, and yet think yourself a meet person to persuade your fellow countrymen to forsake the religion they have long professed, and to follow you they know not whither? or do you know them, and yet dare to thrust in your scurrility to their exclusion? Plainly, sir, the most charitable judgement that I can make of this disclosure of yours is that it proceeds from ignorance of the most important truths and most necessary works of the gospel. (Works of John Owen, 14:445-446)
For some help from Sinclair Ferguson on reading Owen, try here.