I just received this book today in the mail, William Perkin's "The Art of Prophesying" and thumbing through it I can already see what a great blessing it is going to be. It turns out that Perkins (1558-1602) was like an ancient John Newton; instead of slave trading he was into black magic, drunkeness and was a terrible brute. But God saved him and filled him with the Holy Ghost and his preaching ministry set Cambridge on fire and went on to inspire an entire future generation of powerful Puritans like Thomas Goodwin and John Cotton and William Ames who considered Perkins their mentor and spiritual father.
The book is basically his reflections on apostolic preaching and how it ought to be conducted, the proper way to expound scripture and rightly handle the Word of God, how to study the Bible, public prayer, the use of memory, etc. It looks like a very wonderful read.
Here it is online and free:
[url=http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/perkins_prophesying.html]The Art of Prophesying[/url]
Here are a few tidbits from a bio I found on Perkins:
[i]"...Perkins had exceptional gifts for preaching and an uncanny ability to reach common people with plain preaching and theology. He pioneered the art of dealing with cases of conscience by self-examination and scriptural diagnosis. Many people were convicted of sin and delivered from bondage under his preaching. The prisoners of the Cambridge jail were among the first to benefit from his powerful preaching. Perkins would pronounce the word [b]damn[/b] with such an emphasis as left a doleful echo in his auditors ears a good while after, wrote Thomas Fuller.
Samuel Clarke offers a striking example of Perkinss pastoral care. He says a condemned prisoner was climbing the gallows, looking half-dead, when Perkins said to him, What man! What is the matter with thee? Art thou afraid of death?
The prisoner confessed that he was less afraid of death than of what would follow it. Sayest thou so, said Perkins. Come down again man and thou shalt see what Gods grace will do to strengthen thee.
When the prisoner came down, they knelt together, hand in hand, and Perkins offered such an effectual prayer in confession of sins
as made the poor prisoner burst out into abundance of tears. Convinced the prisoner was brought low enough, even to Hell gates, Perkins showed him the gospel in prayer. Clarke writes that the prisoners eyes were opened to see how the black lines of all his sins were crossed, and cancelled with the red lines of his crucified Saviors precious blood; so graciously applying it to his wounded conscience, as made him break out into new showers of tears for joy of the inward consolation which he found. The prisoner rose from his knees, went cheerfully up the ladder, testified of salvation in Christs blood, and bore his death with patience, as if he actually saw himself delivered from the Hell which he feared before, and heaven opened for the receiving of his soul, to the great rejoicing of the beholders
Perkinss sermons were of many colours, writes Fuller. They seemed to be all Law and all gospel, all cordials and all corrosives, as the different necessities of people apprehended. He was able to reach many types of people in various classes, being systematic, scholarly, solid and simple at the same time. Most importantly, he lived his sermons: As his preaching was a comment on his text, so his practice was a comment on his preaching,
Perkins aimed to wed predestinarian preaching with practical, experiential living. He refused to see the relationship between Gods sovereignty and mans responsibility as antagonistic but treated them as friends who need no reconciliation..."[/i]
Amen! Maybe we can discuss some parts of the book on this thread. It looks like a great source of instruction, and coming from the pen of a man God mightily used. In this day and age of deception and overboard charismania we can use a real good, healthy and honest discourse on the preaching of the full counsel of God and the "art of prophesying" (which, by the way, is [i]not[/i] the art of divination, as some would think).
Paul Frederick West