Christopher Blackwood’s 12 Steps Toward Becoming a Preacher

1. Beg of God to open thy heart to understand the Scriptures, I Cor. 2. 11, 14, 15. Prov. 2. 4, 5, 6.

2. Get a guide to direct thee, Acts. 8.30. Understandest thou what thou readest? said Philip, the Eunuch answered, How can I except some man guide me?

Quest. What guide?
Answ. Some experienced Preacher, who being desired will deal faithfully with thee, and show thee thy superfluities and thy defects, and set thee in a way of method, and prescribe what books are fittest for thee; what Commentators, and what other books of practical Divinity.

3. Study,

  • 1. The Scriptures.
  • 2. Thine own heart.
  • 3. Fundamental Divinity, whereof there are sundry Systems in English, as Dr. Ames his Marrow, and his Cases in English, Ursins his Catechism English, Peter Martyrs common places English.

4. Get the best English Commentators; Mr Baines on the Ephesians, Mr. Elton on the Colossians, Par on the Romans, Dixon on Matthew, Hebrews, Psalms, Hutchinson on the small Prophets, Mayer on the Prophets; There are some English Commentaries on most of the Scriptures, though nothing comparable to the Latin. It would be a work well beseeming some Prince or great man, to employ ten Preachers or more, who being painfull and studious might abridg the chief Latin Commentaries, and put them in a short English Commentary, oh how would it make the way of salvation plain!

4. Consider four things:

  • 1. The scope of the Scripture you would speak to; if you miss herein you will miserably mangle the Scriptures.
  • 2. The connection or joyning with fore-going and following words.
  • 3. A right Analyse or division of the Chapter into the parts thereof, marking where the Holy Ghost ceases to speak to one subject, and where it goes on to another.
  • 4. The explanation or true meaning of the words.

5. Be careful a while to expound the Scriptures in thy family, in the exercise whereof thou wilt be much helped on to edifie an assembly. Practice is helpfull hereto, but it is but one help.

6. Expound so that still you may keep to the proportion of faith, Rom. 12. 6.

7. Consider in the Scripture, 1. The position the Spirit lays down. 2. The arguments and reasons to prove that position.

8. In reading any Commentary note the remarkable things therein at the first reading with a pen, and then reade over the second or third time what you have noted, passing by all the expositions not noted.

9. Compare one Scripture with another and strive to expound darker places by them which are plainer.

10. Strive to be a good Text man. It’s absurd for a Lawyer to speak without a Text out of the Law, much more for a Preacher.

11. Mistake not to think that a man cannot be a Preacher without Aristotle. In many sacred mysteries we must not dispute or philosopohize, but hear and believe God to be true, though what he saith may seem absurd. Many seeking after philosophical speculations have sought for an high Mountain to cast themselves down.

12. Learn to distinguish the Law from the Gospel, and to teach clearly the doctrine of faith and repentance.

Concerning the way and method how to preach, there are sundry books in print, as Bernards Faithful Shepherd, &c.


From Blackwood’s Commentary on Matthew 1-10

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