The Art of Prophesying, a short review

The Art of Prophesying, William Perkins

Whether you want a book that will raise eyebrows with your Reformed friends or that will entice non-Reformed acquaintances, this is it.  Prophesying has a uniquely Puritan meaning: preaching.  As in our time, William Perkins’ day was a time when faithful preaching was rare and great emotional orators were prevalent.  In response, he rekindled the “plainness of speech” style that characterized the Puritans.

This simply written little book is evenly divided into two parts: preaching and calling.  Perkins defines and defends preaching before setting the ground rules for interpreting Scripture (an extremely useful, non-technical and readable section with an abundance of verses).  Perkins dedicates the rest of the book to the calling, function and significance of the true Gospel minister.  Ministers are men of God: they rebuke, exhort, and teach in the name of the Lord with a God-given authority.  “Yet you must not rage…against it, nor must you hate the minister, nor resort to personal criticism of him. Instead, submit your self to the gospel…if you respond otherwise you will…wrong the minister…and, unfortunately, you will harm yourself even more” (119).  There is also blessing: “Do you have a godly pastor? Confer with him. Go to him for comfort and counsel; profit from his company, sit under his ministry frequently; count him worthy of ‘double honor’…Never imagine that it is a…commonplace blessing to have ‘one of a thousand’.  Thank God for giving this mercy to you, which he has denied to so many others” (100).

Even if you will never enter the ministry, the first part of the book is worth the price and the latter half should imbibe you with a renewed sense of the greatness of the Gospel Ministry.

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