Sermon Structure: A Brief Outline Guide
|Origins||Origins in Cicero's dicta that oratory should
instruct, convince, and excite the listener.
Parts of an Oration (based on Cicero)
A. Exordium, or introduction. Wilhelm Zepper (1598) compared this to the opening bars of a piece of music that renders the audience attentive. Puritan writers, however, "condemned the exordium because it was first of all unnecessary to true believers, who should be sufficiently regardful of the preacher without any artificial capturing of their attention" (Miller, New England Mind 340).
|Structure||Parts of a Sermon
A.Laying open the text
1. Grammatical meaningB. Doctrine
1. Partition and division of the topicC. Reasons
1. Demonstration of the truth of the doctrineD. Application
1. Magnifies arguments
|Perry Miller, The New England Mind: "The Anglican sermon is constructed on a symphonic scheme of progressively widening vision; it moves from point to point by verbal analysis, weaving larger and larger embroideries about the words of the text. The Puritan sermon quotes the text and "opens" it as briefly as possible, expounding circumstances and context, explaining its grammatical meanings, reducing its tropes and schemata to prose, and setting forth its logical implications; the sermon then proclaims in a flat, indicative sentence the "doctrine" contained in the text or logically deduced from it, and proceeds to the first reason or proof. Reason follows reason, with no other transition than a period and a number; after the last proof is stated there follow the uses or applications, also in numbered sequence, and the sermon ends when there is nothing more to be said. The Anglican sermon opens with a pianissimo exordium, gathers momentum through a rising and quickening tempo, comes generally to a rolling, organ-toned peroration; the Puritan begins with a reading of the text, states the reason in an order determined by logic, and the uses in an enumeration determined by the kinds of person in the throng who need to be exhorted or reproved, and it stops without flourish or resounding climax" (332-3).|