Nine Marks of Gospel Preaching – Durham Style

Erroll Hulse has an interesting and helpful article “Spurgeon and his Gospel Invitations” in A Marvelous Ministry: How the All-round Ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon Speaks to us Today (Ligonier: Soli Deo Gloria, 1993).  In this article he enumerates ten key features of Spurgeon’s gospel preaching.  I’ve omitted one of these points leaving nine and I’ll now proceed to highlight how they are also applicable to James Durham.

  1. “There was no restriction in his invitations”
    The marriage must be proclaimed through the world by the preached gospel; the contract must be opened up and read, and sinners’ consent called for.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 52
    It is not one or two, or some few who are called; not the great only, nor the small only, nor the holy only, nor the profane only, but you all are bidden; the call comes to all and every one of you in particular, poor and rich, high and low, holy and profane. “Ho (proclaims the Lord, as it were, with an “Oh, yes!” in Isaiah 55:1), everyone that thirsts, come; and he that hath no money, let him come.” “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely” Revelation 22:17. Our blessed Lord Jesus … In His name we invite all of you, and make offer of Jesus Christ to be your Husband …
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 60
    We make this offer to all of you, to you who are atheists, to you who are graceless, to you who are ignorant, to you who are hypocrites, to you who are lazy and lukewarm, to the civil and to the profane. We pray, we beseech, we beg you all to come to the wedding … We will not, we dare not say, that all of you will get Christ for a Husband; but we do most really offer Him to you all, and it shall be your own fault if you lack Him and go without Him.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 60
  2. “There was great love in his invitations”
    O beloved hearers, all this is to let you see that our Lord is in earnest and very willing to espouse you; and indeed, it shall not be His fault if it is not a bargain.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 50
    The greatest complaint, weight and grief of an honest minister of the gospel, is this, that his message is not taken off his hand, that Christ is not received, believed in, and rested on…
    Christ Crucified, 73
    Why will God have Christ in the offer of the gospel brought so near to the hearers of it … Because it serves to commend the grace and love of God in Christ Jesus.  When the invitation is so broad that it is to all, it speaks of the royalty of the feast, upon which ground (2 Cor 6:1) it is called grace, the offer is so large and wide.
    Christ Crucified, 83
  3. “There was the reality of death and hell in his invitations”
    Consider that death and life are now in your option, in your hand as it were; choose or refuse.  I speak not, nor plead here for free-will, but of your willing electing of that which you have offered to you … You may have life by receiving Christ, who is laid to your door, and if you refuse him, death will follow it.
    Christ Crucified, 85
  4. “There was a personal appeal in his invitations”
    You see then what you are called to.  It is to open to Christ, to come to him, to marry him, to roll yourselves on him, to commit yourselves to him, to give him credit etc.  And is there any of these unreasonable or prejudicial to you?  And if they be very reasonable and advantageous (as indeed they are), we would exhort you to come to him, to receive him, to apprehend him, to flee to him, to take hold of him, to marry him etc.  Believe on him, and by believing on him, be united to him, and get a right to him, and to all his purchase; give him the credit of saving your souls.  This we call for from you …
    Christ Crucified, 99
  5. “There was urgency in his invitations”
    You must not delay to come and close the bargain; you must not put it off till tomorrow, nay, not an hour. All things are ready. Just now, now is the accepted time: here stands the blessed Bridegroom … We dare not be answerable to our Master, nor can we be answerable to our trust and commission, if we shuffle by or thrust out any of you if ye do not thrust out yourselves … let me beseech and beg you to come to the wedding.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 66-7
    We cannot allow you an hour’s time to advise … close with Him presently, or you may never have the like opportunity … The King is on His throne … His servants invite in His name. Come, therefore; come without further lingering …
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 68
  6. “There was the offer of immediate justification in his invitations”
    All who come may expect a very good and heartsome welcome. None need to fear that they shall not be made welcome … The Lord will not look down on such as come; nay, He is waiting to welcome them, and to meet them, as it were, midway, as we see in the parable of the prodigal (Luke 15).
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 56
    Faith is … seeing Christ has satisfied justice for sinners, and his satisfaction is offered in the gospel to all that will receive it, even to all the hearers of the gospel; that sinners, in the sight and sense of their lost condition, would flee unto him, receive and rest upon him, and his satisfaction, for pardon of sin, and making of their peace with God.
    Christ Crucified, 123
  7. “There was urgent persuasiveness in his invitations”
    Do not only make an offer of marriage, but request, entreat, persuade, pray and beg, yea command and compel …
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 56
    Seeing Christ comes near you in this gospel … I entreat you, while he is near, receive him, call upon him while he is near … open to him, take him in, give him welcome … O receive this gospel, give him room; while he is content to sup with you, take him in, make sure your union with him.  This is the end why this report is made, and Christ is laid before you, even that you may lay yourselves over on him.
    Christ Crucified, 84
  8. “There was a spirit of joy in the invitations”
    They who come may expect a very hearty welcome; therefore they are invited once and again.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 45
    The discovery of Christ Jesus, and the making him known, is the greatest news, the gladdest tidings, and the most excellent report, that ever came, or can come to a people … These are the good tidings, that Jesus Christ is come, and that he is Saviour by office.
    Christ Crucified, 73
  9. “There was a sense of God himself in the invitations”
    God the Father, and the King’s Son the Bridegroom, are not only content and willing, but very desirous to have sinners come to the marriage. They would fain (to speak with reverence) have poor souls espoused to Christ.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 44
    [In the gospel offer] the Father and the Son are most heartily willing; therefore they expostulate when this marriage is refused, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered you, but you would not!” (Matthew 23:37). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if thou, even thou, hadst known in this thy day the things that belong to thy peace!” (Luke 19:42). All these sad complaints, that Israel would not hearken to His voice, and His people would have none of Him (Psalm 81:11), that He came to His own, and His own received Him not (John 1:11), and that they will not come to Him that they might have life (John 5:40), make out His willingness abundantly and undeniably.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 55
    What is our commission today? This is it … the King … speaks to you by us, and we speak to you in His name, and tell you that our blessed Lord Jesus is wooing you. We declare, publish and proclaim it.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 58
    Our Lord Jesus is not far to seek. He is here waiting to close the bargain with you. This is our errand, to proclaim these glad tidings to you … Is not the Father ready? He has given His consent. Is not the Bridegroom ready, when He has done so much … The feast is ready, the garments are ready … The contract is ready … He is ready to accept you if you will accept Him. Our blessed Lord Jesus says that He is content to marry you … there is in effect nothing wanting but your consent, and let that not be wanting, I beseech you.
    Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 59

I would submit that these nine marks are common to all those who preach “Christ and him crucified” in a manner truly faithful to Scripture.

5 Responses to “Nine Marks of Gospel Preaching – Durham Style”

  1. Steven Carr Says:

    Amen to that! I would add to that list a great sense of the authority of Christ. You’re leaving out the tenth mark has made me curious, what was the tenth mark and why did it not seem applicable here?

  2. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Hi Steve

    Yes, agreed on authority. The tenth mark was that there was flexibility in the free offer i.e. it was more present in some sermons than others. This is the case in Durham also but I didn’t think it was overly relevant, although true and important. I also wanted to do a take on “9 marks ministries” in the title. My wife asked the same question when she read the post.

    I liked the baptism pictures by the way. God’s covenant with believers and their children is indeed precious. My wife’s father baptised our little girl nearly three years ago now and DV will be performing the same duty later on this summer when our second is born.

  3. Steven Carr Says:

    Thanks, the covenant is truly one of the greatest of all God’s blessings. My dad has four grandchildren now and he has baptized all four of them.

  4. puritanismtoday Says:

    Dear D.J.M,

    There is indeed a crying need for a recovery of such Biblical preaching today.


  5. Donald John MacLean Says:

    Dear G.M

    Yes, preachers who are committed to proclaiming the sovereignty of God coupled with the full, free and earnest offer of the gospel are the need of the hour. Our duty is to beseech the Lord of the harvest to send such labourers into his harvest field.

    Every blessing

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