In my review of How Sermons Work, I shared that a place I struggle in developing my sermons is in regard to specific, helpful application. But application isn’t about giving a list of “to-dos,” it’s an instrument by which the Holy Spirit uses faithful preaching to bring about conviction, repentance and a greater desire for holiness, an idea captured well in this quote from Francis Wayland, as published in Living For God’s Glory:
From the manner in which our ministers entered upon the work, it is evident that it must have been the prominent object of their lives to convert men to God. They were remarkable for what was called experimental preaching. They told much of the exercises of the human soul under the influence of the truth of the gospel. The feeling of a sinner while under the convicting power of the truth; the various subterfuges to which he resorted when aware of his danger; the successive applications of truth by which he was driven out of all of them; the despair of the soul when it found itself wholly without a refuge; its final submission to God, and simple reliance on Christ; the joys of the new birth and the earnestness of the soul to introduce others to the happiness which it has now for the first time experienced; the trials of the soul when it found itself an object of reproach and persecution among those whom it loved best; the process of sanctification; the devices of Satan to lead us into sin; the mode in which the attacks of the adversary may be resisted; the danger of backsliding, with its evidences, and the means of recovery from it…. These remarks show the tendency of the class of preachers which seem now to be passing away.