2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
He was not a polished orator, preferring to preach using simple language and familiar concepts. He focused on the essentials, including sin and repentance, grace and redemption, the Word, the Sacraments, faith, good works, and the reward of the righteous and the reward of the wicked. Justification by faith was at the heart of all of his sermons, but this faith not only justified, it also sanctified. He was deeply concerned about keeping the Lord's Day, and insisted on spending the whole day for the purpose for which it was set apart: rest from bodily labor, the hearing of God's Word, prayer and deeds of mercy. He always wrote out his sermons, strongly believing he was called to be God's mouthpiece. His sermons were easily understood by the farmers, the housemaid and the children, who made up his congregation.
He encouraged freewill offerings and never tried to shame his members into giving what they would not give willingly. As a result a wonderful spirit of liberality took over his church.
"He was especially faithful in visiting he sick and bringing them the comforts of the Gospel. He was honest with the sick, admonishing them to repentance and faith. Where there was imminent danger of death he was not slow to speak of it; he endeavored to prepare the patient for his end, which could be one of peace and hope only through a firm reliance in the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God. He never tried to comfort the sick with a false hope and never tried to fill their souls with undue alarm."
"What I then promised, my beloved, before God the searcher of hearts, I now also promise to you, the same vow the husband makes the wife, and the wife makes the husband. The vow which a pastor makes to his congregation must the congregation make to the pastor. You must promise that you will live with me after God's will and command in all Christian love and charity, that you will not abandon me in adversity or affliction, that you will not separate from me until God separates us. If it be your earnest wish and will, as it is mine, then arise; and let us together promise, in the presence of the living Triune God, that we will live with one another after God's will and command; that we will have Christian love and charity for each other; that we will not abandon each other in trial or adversity; that, lastly, we will not separate from each other until the Almighty Father separates us."
"For His indwelling, beloved, you must know that the temple of each heart must be pure, as He desired the Temple at Jerusalem to be ere He could remain therein. When He saw the ungodly buyers and sellers trafficking in the sacred place He cast them out, saying: "My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves." And this is an example for us; Jesus the King will come into the temple of your hearts; are they holy temples, houses of prayer, or are they through manifold sins and pleasures of the world converted into dens in which perhaps Satan has built his throne? Oh, beloved, the blessed Son of God, whom you have loved, recognizes the pure in heart, for He is pure; therefore let each confess his sins to God, and examine himself by the test of the holy commandments, comparing his course of life with them, that he may, by the help of the Holy Spirit, perceive his sins."
With strength given by the Holy Spirit, strict attention to the Word, driven by love of Christ, seeing in every soul one whom Christ bought with His blood, who belongs to Him, and whom we must win for Him; this I believe is the true way of life.
"The only theory I value is the Holy Spirit."
God's command and his great desire to obey gave him no rest; but his faith in Jesus kept him serene, collected, and calm; no failure caused him to doubt of success, nor adverse circumstances disheartened him. When there was not a penny in the treasury he remained cheerful and patient; he knew that God would help, and that help never failed him.
To him the word of the Lord: “Whatsoever ye ask in my name that will I do," was the inviolate truth; he prayed in confidence in God's Word, and was not put to shame. He began and ended all with prayer; never left his house and returned to it without the words, "In God's name," and in his many outgoings never met with injury.
His maxim was that what was right was also wise and prudent; and if mistakes were made through his or other people's short-sightedness, it gave him no anxiety, for he had faith that the Saviour would correct all that had been done in true belief.
He attended no wedding where there was card playing or dancing; otherwise, he willingly took part, and, when there, old and young clustered about him.
He held fast to the belief that to those who could pray nothing was impossible.
"A true, simple, able man, just such as we need; not of lofty words nor lofty nature, although, by the body, he belongs to the high people of this world; one who knows how to deal with plain peasant folk, and, as you may believe, heartily devoted to our dear church."
“Then from every house, there burst forth a peal of morning psalms, and up on the hill before their doors the mission students blew chorales in their long trumpets. And when the householder had assembled his friends for morning worship, and they had breakfasted, the street is crowded and living with greetings of neighbours and friends unexpectedly met, until the bell rings out again for service at ten. The church is soon filled, the men on one side, the women on the other, as the old fashioned way is; the passages admit no more; and the rest gather outside about the open windows, for there are more than 6000 people. There is not a flower in the building, nor a wreath of green boughs, though that is the German custom on festive days, and Harms is a true churchman. But his churchism never comes in the way of his piety or good sense, and to every petition for the flowers he has replied quietly, No theatre wares. The singing is in somewhat quicker time than usual, firm and strong and full, so exquisite for harmony and expression that, as a visitor once said, he must be a daring preacher who will venture into the pulpit after that. Harms stands before the communion-table, and salutes the congregation with the blessing: The Lord be with you; they answer by one voice, within and without, “And with thy spirit.” After a brief liturgical service, in which the pastor's free prayer seizes on the whole soul, the Gospel is read with brief comment. Harms walking backwards and forwards in his energy, to the scandal of every dry-as-dust ecclesiastic; and with the interval of a hymn, the sermon follows. It would be impossible, without transcribing the whole, to give a right conception of what is preached and how; it would be impossible thus to convey a sense of the fervour, and (there is no better word for it) holiness of the speaker, his utter simpleness, the directness of his country phrases, his fire, and that love and perfect faith which colour all his words. Of his other qualities as a preacher, the year's course of sermons now in course of publication enable any one to judge. He has a mastery of exposition, of unfolding the meaning in the fewest and plainest words; in lucid order, and with a natural reference to the people. He never pretends to flights of eloquence; it would be unsuited to his position, and probably to the character of his mind. He is content with the Word itself, as it appeals to the heart, with broad and positive statements of doctrine. He has much of that plainness of doctrine and homeliness of illustration which the ultraLutheran party affect but never reach; He has also a sharpness and roughness of idiom which would offend fastidious hearers. But he has eminently that merit which Luther pronounces the highest, of making you forget the preacher and hear the Word. After the benediction, a great number of the young people come forward and sing over many of the best known hymns. Liturgical responses follow, as brief as at the opening, and the service is concluded with free prayer "to the living, present Lord Jesus, not as sitting up in heaven, or hovering in the blue depths of the ether, but in our midst, and with whom we speak as a man with his friend."