One of the most influential spiritual leaders in England during the early 17th century was a divine by the name of Laurence Chaderton. He is remembered mostly now as a scholar and as one of the translators of the King James Version of the Bible. But in his own time he was most famous for his preaching.
For 50 years he preached nearly every Sunday in the same church to enthralled crowds. Such a remarkable career was certainly not foreseen in his childhood. He was born into a wealthy Roman Catholic family, and became a Protestant only after he had left home to go to Cambridge University. His father, deeply angered, disinherited him, and showed his scornful expectation of the boy's ruin by sending him a beggar's bowl containing a few old copper coins. Nothing daunted, the young Laurence gained his degree, was ordained, and began his splendid ministry.
It is said that one Sunday he made a rare visit to another church, and after preaching for two hours brought his sermon to an end with the words, "I will trespass no further upon your patience." But before he could sit down, loud cries arose from all over the congregation: "For God's sake, sir, go on, go on!" So he continued for another hour, to the delight and contentment of his hearers!
I have not written this book, I hasten to say, to encourage three-hour sermons (we do well today to hold the interest of a congregation for thirty minutes). But preachers might at least learn how to end a sermon with the congregation yearning for more, rather than wishing it were less!