Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Christian Minister

In his book Matthew 13: The Parable of the Sower, Samuel Stennett (1728-1795) notes that the sower in Matthew 13:3 is the "Savior Himself, and all those whose office it is to instruct men in the truths and duties of religion," (p. 48).  Then he looks at the character and duty of a Christian minister (pp. 49-50):

"He [a Christian minister] ought to be well-skilled in divine knowledge, to have a competent acquaintance with the world and the human heart, to perceive clearly wherein the true interest of mankind consists, to have just apprehensions of the way of salvation, and to be rightly instructed in the various duties he has to inculcate.  He should have an aptitude and ability to teach, and his bosom should burn with a flaming zeal for the glory of God, the honor of Christ, and the welfare of immortal souls.  He should, in fine, be endued with a humble, meek, patient, and persevering spirit.

Thus qualified for his work, he must study to approve himself unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).  He must consider well the character and condition of those he instructs, adapt himself to their various capacities, seize every favorable opportunity of getting at their hearts, and call in to his aid every possible argument to enforce divine truth.  He must give to everyone his portion in due season, milk to babes and meat to strong men; and lead them on from one state of instruction to another as they can bear it, initiating them in the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, and so bringing them forward to perfection.  It must be his object now, by sounding the terrors of the divine law in their ears, to plow up the fallow ground of men's hearts; and then, by proclaiming the glad tidings of the gospel, to cast in the seeds of every Christian grace and virtue.  He must be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering (2 Tim. 4:2); put out his whole strength, be superior to every discouragement, and labor incessantly in his duty.

Pain and pleasure will attend all his exertions, and alternately affect his spirits.  The different characters he has to deal with, and different impressions the Word makes at different times; the various circumstances that arise to aid or obstruct his endeavors, and the various frames to which he is himself liable; these will all operate to create sometimes anxious fears, and at others the most pleasing expectations.  Now we shall hear him with great sadness of heart complaining.  Who hath believed my report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (Isa. 53:1) and then, in the animated language of the apostle, thanking God for that he hath cause him to triumph in Christ, and made manifest by his labors the savor of his knowledge in every place (2 Cor. 2:14).  Now we see him go forth weeping, bearing precious seed: and then come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psa. 126:6).--Such are the duties and labors, such the anxieties and hopes, such the disappointments and successes of those who preach the gospel, and who answer to the character of the sower in our parable [Matt. 13:1-23] who went forth to sow."

"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation...Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you," (Heb. 13:7, 17).