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by the same Divine Head to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. And, notwithstanding what the Plymouth Brethren, the Ritualists, and tie Roman Catholics have to say upon this question, it is evident, from the teachings and example of the Apostles and their immediate successors, that the most prominent and important duty of the Christian minister is to preach the Gospel to the people. In order to do this efficiently, it will require much reading, considerable study, and earnest prayer that the power of the Holy Ghost may rest
St. Paul advised Timothy, and through him all ministers of Christ, to “Give attendance to reading. This advice comes home with considerable force in these days of a reading public,'cheap books, and a “free press. The ministers of Christ must not lag behind the “reading public' in general intelligence. History, both ancient and modern, natural pbilosophy, geography, and biography, with the current literature of the period, should have part of their attention. Reading furnishes the mind with the materials of knowledge. It supplies food for reflection. “Reading,' says Lord Bacon, ‘makes a full man.' But as the Christian minister is called to discharge a particular work, special attention must be given to those books which bear directly upon that work.
* There is, indeed,' says Locke, 'one science incomparably above all the rest, and that is theology. That which contains the knowledge of God and His creatures, our duty to Him and our fellow-creatures, and a view of our present and future state is the comprehension of all other knowledge directed to its true end, i.e., the honour and veneration of the Creator and the happiness of mankind.' The one book, therefore, of the Christian minister must be the holy Scriptures. Here God reveals His will and makes known His purposes respecting our race. The Bible is in the world of books what the sun is in the solar system. It is the great light, the great truth, and the true
way of life. All other books borrow their little light and truth from it. “Search the Scriptures,' said the Saviour, ' for in them ye
ye have eternal life ; and they are they which testify of Me (John v. 39).
But reading itself is not study. We do not study by allowing our eyes to run along the words of a line and down the contents of a page.
a We do not study when we allow our thoughts to go as fast as they come, like breezes moving over a field of corn, or shadows fitting over a brook. Study is an earnest thing. Study is mental effort. Study is hard work. It pauses to understand, and delays to reflect, and tarries to compare, and never passes on till it has made the present object its own by an act of mental appropriation. Montaine says, “Knowledge should not be stuck on the mind, but incorporated in it. It is not enough,' said John Locke, to cram ourselves with a great load of collections : unless we chew them over again, they will not give us strength and nourishment.' 'Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.' Ministers must, therefore,
read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ the truths of the Gospel, and then preach them to the people. “Let us study,' says the Apostle,
to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth' (2 Tim. ii. 15). But prayer is indispensably necessary to efficiency and success in all Christian work. In order to preach well, ministers must pray well. “Ask, and it shall be given you.' All their readings and studies must be consecrated upon the altar of prayer. «The preacher,' says Hugh Bourne, if possible, should so fully get into faith as to preach the Gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. In order to do this, he must keep clear of all improprieties, all reflections on individuals or societies, and all other unprofitable things (because these grieve the Holy Ghost), using only sound speech which cannot be condemned, and, as far as wisdom is given him, preach a pure Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel.' The Apostles of Christ earnestly prayed that the Holy Ghost might help them to preach, and they also earnestly requested the members of the churches to pray for them (Col. iv. 2, Eph. vi. 18). Ministers of Christ must plead for the presence and power
of the Holy Ghost in all their ministrations. •For it is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,' said the Lord of Hosts' (Zac. iv. 16). I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase' (1 Cor. iii. 6).
'Go in Thy Master's name,
The wrath of God.'
2. To pay pastoral visits at suitable times to all the members of his flock, but particularly to the sick and poor. Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, writes the inspired Apostle, and to all the flock
less as ever.
over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.' The Greek word which is translated overseers is compounded of two, which signify the care, the intense care, which must be taken of the Church. If one soul, therefore, perish through the minister's neglect, the awful words apply to him, “His blood will I require at Thine hand' (Eze. iii. 18).
In the pulpit the minister may have an attentive audience gathered about him, listening with eagerness to the words of eternal life, and for whose salvation he feels an intense and ardent desire; but when that congregation enters upon the common concerns of daily life, the cares and vicissitudes of business, how apt are they to forget the important lessons of the Sabbath, and the impressions which were made upon their minds are speedily effaced, and their souls become as care
On the Lord's-day the minister felt deeply for the people, and it is just to imagine that many in the congregation were seriously impressed with the truths; but during the ensuing week the chilling influences of the world too frequently destroy the effects of the Sabbath services. Hence, the necessity and importance of seconding the efforts of the Sabbath by pastoral visitation.
As soon as the minister enters the house of one of his flock the remembrance of the topic of discourse on the preceding Sabbath will be refreshed, and the members of the household who can conveniently be assembled will be glad to listen to what their pastor has got to say, who, after suitable advice and encouragement, will lead them in prayer at a throne of heavenly grace. By such visits the good seed which Was sown on the preceding Sabbath is nurtured, and the dew of heaven descends upon the family. Parents delight in these visits of the minister, and by them the children are better prepared to listen to the voice of their teacher on the ensuing Sabbath. The poorest families will greatly esteem and value them, as they will tend to sooth and comfort them in the midst of their many privations and sorrows. Special attention should always be given to the afflicted poor. Their position and sufferings demand this consolation at the minister's hands.
And, in order to make such visits more efficient and better appreciated, the church should place at the minister's disposal a fund for distribution amongst the
“I have kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the
Greeks repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts xx. 20). Writing to his brethren, Wesley said, 'We must instruct them from house to house. Till this is done, and that in good earnest, the Methodists will be little better than other people.' Again he writes, Go into every house in course, and teach every one therein, young and old, if they belong to us, to be Christians inwardly and outwardly.' Again he asks, 'Can we find a better method of doing this than Mr. Baxter's? If not, let us adopt it without delay.' Upon this subject Mr. Baxter says, “We shall find many difficulties both in ourselves and in the people. In ourselves there is much dulness and laziness, so that there will be much ado to get us to be faithful in the work ;' and after some other remarks, he adds, Some of us have also a foolish bashfulness. We know not how to begin, or to speak plainly. We blush to speak for Christ, or to contradict the devil, or to save a soul.' Again he writes, ' After all our preaching, how ignorant, negligent, and worldly-minded are many of our people. Some of them might never have heard the gospel preached. How few that know the nature of repentance, of faith, and of holiness. Most of them have a sort of confidence that Christ will justify and save them while the world has their hearts and they live to themselves. And I have found by experience that one of these has learned more from one hour's close discourse than from ten years' public preaching. O brethren, if we could generally set this work on foot in all our societies and prosecute it skilfully and jealously, what glory would redound to God thereby! If the common ignorance were thus banished, and our vanity and idleness turned into the study of the way of life, and every shop and every house busied in speaking of the word and works of God, surely God would dwell in our habitations and make them His delight.'
John Wesley practised what he enforced upon his brethren. When seventy years old he writes in his journal: “Tuesday, January 12th, I began at the east end of the town to visit the society from house to house.' 'I know of no branch of the pastoral office which is of greater importance than this.' Again, he says, 'I found that the society had decreased since L. C. went away, and yet they had full as good preachers. But that is not sufficient. By repeated experiments we learn that, though a man preach like an angel, he will neither collect nor preserve a society which is collected without visiting them from house to house.' How indefatigable are Roman Catholic priests and Ritualistic clergymen in the regular visitation of their people, whether learned or ignorant, rich or poor, masters or servants! You find them
in the sick-chamber, in the workhouse, and in the hospital. They are always at it. And surely Protestant ministers will not lag behind in this important work. The early Methodist ministers and the fathers of our beloved Zion were not a wit behind the chiefest apostles in pastoral visitation. Feeling its importance to the souls of men, they gloried in it, and hence their great success. Dr. Chalmers was wont to say, “A house-going minister makes a church-going people.'
Christian ministers are obligated-
St. Paul says, “ A bishop must be blameless,' i.e., of spotless reputation, without fault or just suspicion ; vigilant, lively, and zealous, yet calm and wise, not wasting his time in mere pleasure-seeking, nor in frivolous conversation. Of good behaviour,' his life outwardly corresponding with his teachings in God's house;"given to hospitality, not greedy, nor selfish, but liberal and generous, giving away to the extent of his ability ;“self-sacrificing' on purpose to manifest practical benevolence, especially among the sick and poor of his flock. Not given to wine ; temperate in his habits, abstaining entirely from what is evil in itself, and using moderately only what is good, thus being an example of perfect self-mastery. "No striker,' not given to retaliation, but patient; not rash in judgment, nor disposed to inflict on any one unnecessary pains, but constantly gentle and forbearing.
Many a man,' writes Baxter, 'hath warned others that they come not to the place of torment while yet they hastened to it themselves. Many a preacher is now in hell who hath a hundred times called upon bis hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. Can any reasonable man imagine that God should save men for offering salvation to others while they refused it themselves, and for telling others those truths which they themselves neglected and abused ? Many a.
rags who makes costly clothes for others, and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers who has dressed for others the most costly dishes. Believe it, brethren, God never took any man to heaven for being a preacher, nor because he was an able preacher, but because he was a justified and sanctified man, and consequently faithful in his Master's work. Ministers must be thoroughly religious, living out in life the great truths they preach to others.
Second: Ministerial Prerogatives, by which we mean ministerial rights, or reasonable claims.
1. The Christian minister has a right to a comfortable maintainance
for himself and family.