NOTE: This article is an excerpt from an excellent little book on preaching, The Expositor in the Pulpit, by the Greek scholar Marvin R. Vincent. The book is the content of his lectures given to students at Union Theological Seminary in 1884. The book is a must read for expository preachers and teachers. This section appears on pp. 25 – 27.
This mode of exposition has the advantage of commanding a larger surface, and that without sacrificing depth or thoroughness. I think that preaching ought to traverse wide areas of Scripture than it sometimes does.
Such areas are not to be measured by the number of sermons which a preacher prepares. In many cases it would be found, if the results were fairly summed up,, that the preachers, notwithstanding the length of their pastorates, had led their people over comparatively small tracts of Bible ground.
We must indeed aim to lodge the Word firmly, but we must also aim to make it dwell in the people richly.
“We are not inquiring,” says Dean Alford, “how little use of the gospels is compatible with the life unto God; on the contrary, we would wish to be understood as endeavoring to set forth the provision here made for us in all its wonderful fullness and in its manifold variety, and as inquiring how we may best avail ourselves of every means of profiting by God’s revelation of His blessed Son. My anxiety is, if it may be, to point out how scripture may be better used, and God more honored, than is commonly the case: . . . . how Christ’s church, whose work for God, by the Spirit dwelling in her, these Scriptures are, may gain the utmost from them, and receive the divine treasure in full.”
It is quite possible to put hearers in possession of entire books of the Bible as of single texts. Something, of course, will depend on the people. The pulpit cannot do all of the work; it must leave many details for the private study of the hearers; the preacher must cut highways through the “broad land of wealth unknown”; but you know that, when the railroad has been once opened through a new country, crossroads into the interior follow in due course of time; and so, when a broad track has been made of the preacher through a section of Scripture, devout hearers will make paths for themselves into the green pastures and beside the still waters. A good expositor not only imparts knowledge, but makes students.