Tag Archives: Joseph Parker

On Preaching a Dead Christ

Tell me that Christ died some nineteen centuries ago, and I will say it was a pathetic incident, but it does not fill me with inspiration and confidence, and a determination to preach something to every creature; tell me that he died and rose again, and is alive, and is alive for evermore, and with me unto the end of the world: then you feed me, stir me, impassion me, until every faculty of my nature burns with new life, feels upon it the touch of eternity. You have lost the resurrection, and therefore any competitor can overthrow Christ’s claims to your confidence. There are men outside who are laughing at you because you are preaching a dead Christ. The men are right. The laughter may be a divine rebuke. If we can affirm that Christ is alive, why, not a council in any county, not a parliament in any country, can for a moment compare with our message.

Joseph Parker, “The Living Christ.” Studies in Texts, vol. 1. Available for Kindle.

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The Latest: Joseph Parker’s Studies in Texts

The latest from Pioneer Library is Joseph Parker’s Studies in Texts, a collection of 76 sermons, originally published in six volumes, now available in one edition. Parker treats some theological topics that were outside of the scope of The People’s Bible series, which is his magnum opus. In Studies in Texts, Dr. Parker includes advice for preachers and a biographical introduction in which he comments on his calling as a preacher.

From the front matter:

A new work in six volumes, containing new sermons, outlines, and a great variety of suggestions, etc. This work will be of the greatest value to active preachers, Bible students, and teachers. The contents will also be exceedingly useful for home and family readings. The work is acknowledged to be the most brilliant and useful of all that Dr. Parker has ever written. A deeply interesting account of how the author preached his first sermon fifty years ago, and also many valuable hints on pulpit preparation and methods of preaching are contained in the preface.

“They are varied in subject and length of treatment; they are such as to stir the reader’s soul; they abound in points which are strong in the author.”
Local Preachers’ Magazine

“They are strenuous and stimulating, marked by all the vigor, eloquence, and formidable candor characteristic of Dr. Parker.”
Newcastle Chronicle

Who Is Joseph Parker?

Who is Joseph Parker?

Joseph Parker was a London preacher who attracted thousands before the days of microphones. He was a friend of Charles Spurgeon, and the two even exchanged pulpits, although their style and focus in preaching were quite different. Parker exhausted his work week in preparing to preach. When asked what his hobbies were, he would surprise his questioner by thundering, “Preaching!”

His authored works number at least 45 volumes, most of which are over 400 pages. The chief of them is The People’s Bible series, which was first published from 1885 to 1895 in 25 volumes, and later republished as Preaching through the Bible.

About The People’s Bible

Joseph Parker’s method in preaching was not a cold verse-by-verse analysis. Instead, he would meditate all the week on a Bible book as a whole, trying to crystallize the most important themes and messages in Scripture as a whole. The resulting sermons are dynamic, meditative, rich in both language and conviction.

One who observed his process of preparation wrote the following:

“He is an extempore preacher, but not an extempore thinker…the subject…being considered for days. His topics are ruminated over, looked at on every side, and through and through until they become part of his spiritual self.”

One preaching magazine wrote: “The People’s Bible is not a commentary; it is rather a pastoral exposition, seeking out and applying the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures.”

Praise for Joseph Parker’s People’s Bible: Discourses upon Holy Scripture

“Dr. Parker has begun a stupendous work in this People’s Bible. He condenses wonderfully, and throws a splendor of diction over all that he pours forth. His track is his own, and the jewels which he lets fall in his progress are from his own caskets; this will give a permanent value to his works, when the productions of copyists will be forgotten.”
Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

“The sermons are very wonderful, but when he prays, he lifts you to heaven.”
Leonard Ravenhill, author of Why Revival Tarries

“He is by far the ablest man now standing in the English-speaking pulpit.”
Alexander Whyte, author of Bible Characters

“Dr. Parker occupies a lonely place among the preachers of our day. His position among preachers is the same as that of a poet among ordinary men of letters.”
Ian MacLaren, author of The Mind of the Master

“Dr. Parker is the foremost preacher in Europe.”
Joseph Cook, D.D., author and preacher

“The most outstanding preacher of his time.”
Margaret Bywater

“Sermons rich in life and power, pungent, practical, faithful and fearless.”
The Christian Union, New York

“Most preachers’ texts are nails and their sermons tack-hammers. With Dr. Parker, his text is a bolt and his sermon a sledge-hammer.”
The Literary World, London

The Inventiveness of Reluctance

Joseph Parker, The People’s Bible, vol. II: Exodus. Available for Kindle.

“But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’ ”
Exodus 4:13 (ESV)

Man excusing himself from duty is a familiar picture. It is not a picture indeed; it is a personal experience. How inventive we are in finding excuses for not doing the will of God! How falsely modest we can become! depreciating ourselves, and putting ourselves before God in a light in which we could never consent to be put before society by the criticism of others. Is not this a revelation of the human heart to itself? We only want to walk in paths that are made beautiful with flowers, and to wander by streams that lull us by their own tranquillity. Nerve, and pluck, and force we seem to have lost. In place of the inventiveness of love we have the inventiveness of reluctance or distaste. It should be our supreme delight to find reasons for co-operating with God, and to fortify ourselves by such interpretations of circumstances as will plainly show us that we are in the right battle, fighting on the right side, and wielding the right weapon. The possibility of self-deception is one of the most solemn of all subjects. I cannot question the sincerity of Moses in enumerating and massing all the difficulties of his side of the case. He meant every word that he said. It is not enough to be sincere; we must have intelligence and conscience enlightened and enlarged. Mistakes are made about this matter of sincerity; the thing forgotten being that sincerity is nothing in itself, everything depending upon the motive by which it is actuated and the object towards which it is directed. The Church is today afflicted with the spirit of self-excusing—it cannot give, because of the depression of the times; it cannot go upon its mighty errands, because of its dainty delicateness; it cannot engage in active beneficence, because its charity should begin at home; it cannot enter into ardent controversy, because it prefers the comfort of inaction. Churches should not tell lies to themselves. The first great thing to be done is for a man to be faithful to his own heart, to look himself boldly in the face, and speak the clear truth emphatically to his own consciousness.

The People’s Bible

I recently finished publishing (in Kindle format) a sermon set called The People’s Bible by Joseph Parker, also published in 1970s as Preaching Through the Bible. Joseph Parker was a contemporary and friend of Spurgeon and, like Spurgeon, gathered thousands of Londoners in the late 19th century. His published sermons number well over 1000. The People’s Bible is a homiletic journey through the entire Bible, comprising about 1200 sermons, preached over the course of seven years.

Spurgeon called The People’s Biblea work of genius” and said that its innovative method would outlast the many copycats of his day.

What is unique about Joseph Parker’s sermons are their dynamic nature, their ability to surprise. He meditated on Scripture during the week, and his preaching was the outflow of that meditation. He gave his messages with few notes, and the man who copied them down said that Parker was at his best when he strayed farthest from his notes.

Alexander Whyte—himself among the most famous British preachers—after hearing Spurgeon and Dean Stanley in London, later heard Joseph Parker on another visit. After hearing him twice he wrote:

“He is by far the ablest man now standing in the English-speaking pulpit. He stands in the pulpit of Thomas Goodwin, the pulpit genius of all the Puritans, and a theologian to whom I owe more than I can ever acknowledge of spiritual light and life. And Dr. Parker is a true and worthy successor to this great Apostolic Puritan.”

Another prominent preacher and writer, Ian MacLaren, wrote the following:

“Dr. Parker occupies a lonely place among the preachers of our day. His position among preachers is the same as that of a poet among ordinary men of letters. … The power of his preaching lies in the contact of a mind of perpetual and amazing originality with the sublime truths of the Gospel, and the faculty which Dr. Parker possesses with all men of intellectual genius of discovering the principles which lie behind what seems the poorest detail, and which resolve all things into a unity.”

His biographer, Margaret Bywater, called him “the most outstanding preacher of his time.”

Below are the links for the new Kindle editions of The People’s Bible. These include active table of contents and linked footnotes.

Genesis
Exodus – sample
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges & Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles
Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah & Lamentations
Ezekiel & Daniel
The Minor Prophets – sample
Matthew (3 vol.)
Mark & Luke
John
Acts (3 vol.)
Romans to Galatians
Ephesians to Revelation