Stennett, Showy Preaching & False Conversions

As a follow up from the last post, here is a further comment from Samuel Stennett. He is responding to the argument that shallow, flamboyant preaching has at least led to many conversions. Since this argument continues today, Stennett’s response continues to be relevant.

And now there remains only one thing more to be noticed, which we hear sometimes urged by weak people as an excuse for the indiscreet liberties we wish to correct; and that is, that “this eccentric mode of preaching has been owned for the awakening and converting of sinner.” But before this argument can have any force, the fact itself should be fully established. Many have been supposed to be the contrary. Convictions have been mistaken for conversion, and a fit of warm enthusiastic zeal, attended with a temporary external reformation, has been deemed sufficient evidence of a renovation of heart. And thus a supposed fact, or what is rather wished than proved to be a divine approbation of such preaching. But even admitting the fact, the inference by no means follows. Very unworthy characters have been instruments of great good, and the unjustifiable extravagancies of weak and inconsiderate men have been overruled by divine Providence, in some instances to very salutary purposes.

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