Jonathan Edwards stated that Peter van Mastricht's Theoretico-Practica Theologia was the best book that he had read apart from the Bible (1). Mastricht wrote his theology in order to teach men how to preach better. Each chapter of this massive work includes an exegetical section, a theological section, a polemical section (refuting error), and a practical section. The Best Method of Preaching began as a preface to Mastricht's larger theological work. Until now, most of Mastricht's writing was buried in Latin. Todd Rester's in-process translation of Mastricht's work will be one of the most important contributions to Reformed churches in our time. The Best Method of Preaching is designed to whet reader's appetites for more (19).
Mastricht believed that most books on preaching were too long (26). He thought that long tedious books on preaching resulted in long tedious sermons. Rester conveniently divides Mastricht's counsel on preaching into ten brief chapters. The book expands the four things that Mastricht believed were necessary in preaching: invention, arrangement, elaboration, and delivery (29). Each chapter is filled with good sense, pithy statements, and illustrations of how to construct the parts of a sermon using Colossians 3:1 as a template. Mastricht's primary goals were to make sermons easy to remember and to promote the practice of piety. The brevity of the book will make it a reference tool to keep on a pastor's desk for weekly sermon preparation.
It is worth knowing Latin if only to read Mastricht and his mentor, Johannes Hoornbeeck. Lord willing, Mastricht will soon be available in English. I pray that this book on preaching would leave readers hooked and longing for more.
Ryan M. McGraw
First OPC, Sunnyvale, CA
(This review appeared in Banner of Truth)