The same venerable brother delivered a sermon equally singular but far more original and useful; those who heard it will remember it to their dying day. It was from this text: “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting.”
The good old man leaned upon the top of the pulpit, and said, “Then, my brethren, he was a lazy fellow!” That was the exordium; and then he went on to say, “He went out a hunting, and after much trouble he caught his hare, and then was too idle to roast it. He was a lazy fellow indeed!”
The good man made us all feel how ridiculous such idleness was, and then he said, “But then you are very likely quite as much to blame as this man, for you do just the same. You hear of a popular minister coming down from London, and you put the horse in the cart, and drive ten or twenty miles to hear him; and then when you have heard the sermon you forget to profit by it. You catch the hare and do not roast it; you go hunting after the truth, and then you do not receive it.”
Then he went on to show, that just as meat needs cooking to prepare it for assimilation in the bodily system—I do not think he used that word though—so the truth needs to go through a process before it can be received into the mind so that we may feed thereon and grow. He said he should show how to cook a sermon, and he did so most instructively. He began as the cookery books do—“First catch your hare.” “So,” he said, “first get a gospel sermon.” Then he declared that a great many sermons were not worth hunting for, and that good sermons were mournfully scarce, and it was worth while to go any distance to hear a solid, old-fashioned, Calvinistic discourse.
Then after the sermon had been caught, there was much about it which might be necessary because of the preacher’s infirmity, which was not profitable, and must be put away. Here he enlarged upon discerning and judging what we heard, and not believing every word of any man.
Then followed directions as to roasting a sermon; run the spit of memory through it from end to end, turn it round upon the roasting-jack of meditation, before the fire of a really warm and earnest heart, and in that way the sermon would be cooked and ready to yield real spiritual nourishment. I do but give you the outline, and though it may look somewhat laughable, it was not so esteemed by the hearers. It was full of allegory, and kept up the attention of the people from the beginning to the end.
[Spurgeon, C. H. (1875). Lectures to my students, Vol. 1: A selection from addresses delivered to the students of the Pastors' College, Metropolitan Tabernacle. (115–116). London: Passmore and Alabaster.]