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Duties of a Minister 4

DISCOURSE 4
 

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer,

and to the ministry of the word,” <440604>Acts 6:4.

PART 1.

1. ATTENTION to, and fidelity in the exercise of, the duty of prayer, is not

one of those obligations which are peculiar to the ministry of the gospel. It

is one of the most essential duties of Christianity. Every real Christian is a

man of prayer: his views, his desires, his hopes, his affections, yea, even

his conversation, are all in heaven. Every Christian is a citizen of the world

to come, and a stranger here below: all exterior objects which here surround

him should be to him only so many ties and obstacles, which, retarding his

course and prolonging his banishment, ought to increase and inflame his

desire after his country: all the temptations which the world offers or throws

it his way, all his secret conflicts with his passions —

all these should lead

him to lift up his eyes continually to heaven; there to send up his sighs and

prayers, and to address himself in secret, and in every place, to that faithful,

heavenly, invisible witness of all his dangers, and all his troubles, from

whose protection alone he expects his consolation and his strength. Every

Christian, then, is a man of prayer; and he who lives not in the exercise and

spirit of prayer, is a man without God, without divine worship, without

religion, without hope; and if this be an incontestable truth, what

instructions are not due to the people, to animate them to the love and

exercise of prayer.

2. But, my brethren, if the spirit of prayer be the soul of Christianity; if that

homage of love which we render to God in publishing his greatness and

loving kindness, or in soliciting his mercies and succors — if all other

ordinances of the gospel are only helps and assistants to this spirit of

prayer; if all external worship be established only to form of the simple

believer the man of devotion, the man of prayer; if he who calls himself a

Christian, and possesses not this spirit, and of course lives not in the

exercise of it, be without religion, without God, without hope; what a

monster must be the minister of this religion, an interpreter of its laws, an

expounder of its doctrines, a dispenser of its graces, a public intercessor

before God for the faithful, if he himself be not a man of prayer; if he be not

faithful to this essential duty! O, my brethren, if there be any among you

who do not feel the full power of these truths, what cause have we to

lament on your account, before that holy dove, that true source of the spirit

of prayer, who groans and prays incessantly in the hearts and by the

mouths of his ministers!

3. St. Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, <441009>Acts 10:9. In our text

we are informed, that all the apostles were resolved to give themselves

continually to prayer: and from the gospels we find that our Lord himself

spent whole nights in prayer, on mountains, and in other secret places,

<401423>Matthew 14:23, etc. And shall any of us presume to live in the omission

of the frequent and habitual exercise of this supporting, nourishing,

quickening, indispensable duty? But I have known many of you, my

brethren, for years; and am confident that one of the most leading features

of your character is the exercise of this holy duty in its spirit and power. I

therefore chiefly desire to stir up your pure minds to remembrance: and O

that I may be the means, under divine grace, by this little mite of love, of

confirming you in your present spirit: yea, of animating you to still greater

fidelity and to higher degrees of fervor in this blessed conversation with

Heaven.

4. We are called to be the lights of those who are in darkness: but it is

prayer and study, always accompanied to the sincere minister of the gospel

with the divine light, which truly renders us lights to the people. Prayer

may be termed the science of the heart, that alone renders useful those

studies which form the science of the mind.

5. It was the indubitable and experimental conviction of this truth,

confirmed to them by the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God,

which induced the college of apostles to come to the determination in my

text, “We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of

the word:” not that they did not before live in the exercise, and spirit, and

very life of prayer; but they were determined now to lay aside every weight

which duty could dispense with, and give themselves up more entirely than

ever to this holy communion with God.

6. It is probable that, like Moses of old, the apostles had, from motives of

pure love, taken an active share in all the minutest parts of the temporal

affairs of the church: but a murmuring arising between the Grecians (that is

to say, such converted Jews as had been dispersed abroad among the

Greeks) and the Hebrews, in respect to the distribution of the church’s

money among their widows respectively, the apostles embrace this

opportunity of shaking off that heavy burden, which so intruded upon the

more important parts of their ministerial and apostolic functions; declaring

that they would give themselves “continually to prayer and to the ministry

of the word”

7. We must here observe to prevent mistakes, that though the apostles

delivered up the management of the poor, and other inferior points, to the

direction of subordinate officers of the church, they still reserved in

themselves the ultimate power of decision in all matters which they judged

of sufficient importance to call for their interference: this is evidently clear

from the following chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. But we proceed to

show how indispensably necessary the duty of constant prayer, which the

apostles themselves could by no means dispense with, is for every minister

of the gospel; having already enlarged upon the other subject, of the

ministry of the word, in my former discourses.

8. In considering the present subject, we shall, first, show the necessity of

continual prayer, as it respects ourselves, particularly considered in our

ministerial capacity; and then, secondly, as it respects our flocks.

I. FIRST, AS IT RESPECTS OURSELVES.

1. The temptations we meet with, to distaste and weariness in our duties,

can only be overcome by the exercise and life of prayer.

If we would fill up our ministry with fidelity, we must wholly devote

ourselves to it; we must sacrifice our ease, our rest, to fill up its various

calls; we cannot dispose of our time as we please: it is a holy servitude,

which makes us no longer our own, but wholly the people’s: we must be

able to say with the apostle, that heat and cold, fatigue, difficult roads,

hunger and thirst, are some of the fruits of our ministry, and signs of our

apostleship. We even often labor among the ungrateful: our pains are often

recompensed with indifference, unteachableness, and murmurs; yea, they

sometimes draw upon us the aversion of those whose salvation we seek.

When we are under these trials, we have reason to guard against disgust

and discouragement. We are ready, perhaps, to throw up the great work in

which we are engaged, when we see not the end of it, and but little of the

fruits. On such occasions, self-love, unsupported by the wished for

success, reclaims its rights, and secretly insinuates, that such painful and

apparently almost useless cares cannot be our duties. Now how can we

possibly support ourselves under such temptations to disgust as these are,

which are dangerous, and so frequent in the course of a long and laborious

ministry, if we do not continually renew our strength at the feet of Jesus

Christ — If we have not the consolation of continually drawing near to him

to open to him all our sorrows and discouragements, as to the great

Shepherd whose place we occupy. It is there we shall be confounded before

him, for making any account of the light troubles of our functions, when

compared to those of the first propagators of Christianity, who sacrificed

their lives for the truth: it is there we shall blush to have indulged a

temptation to lay down our arms almost before we had begun the combat,

and to have been disheartened and discouraged by labors so light; when

those holy ministers of God had defied tribulations, anguish, hunger,

nakedness, persecution, fires, gibbets, and all the fury of tyrants, who

would have separated them from the love of God in Christ Jesus their Lord:

it is from thence, my brethren, that we should always return with a new

taste for all the functions of our office — with a new zeal for the salvation

of souls: returning from thence, what before appeared burdensome and

painful, would now become light, yea, delightful to us; and the fatigues and

contradictions of sinners, inseparable from the duties of our office, would

be to us a most comfortable proof of our calling to the ministry of the word.

Let none of us, my brethren, deceive ourselves: without the constant

exercise and life of prayer, we continually feel every thing which is

disagreeable and distressing in our ministry: we draw in a yoke which

overpowers us: we bear with reluctance the burden and heat of the day. But

by prayer all is sweetened: the yoke is no more heavy: the labors increase;

but the pain, the disgust, the discouragements, vanish away.

You

sometimes, my brethren, perhaps, are ready to complain of the oppression

and weariness of Spirit which the multitude and difficulties of your

avocations bring upon you, and of your inability to fulfill your duties: but if

you address yourselves constantly to him who changes our weakness into

strength. If you be faithful to the duty of prayer, these difficulties will

disappear; the mountains will become plains; you will find your selves new

men; and you will no longer complain, but that you have not labored or

suffered enough for Jesus Christ.

2. IF PRAYER ALONE CAN SWEETEN ALL THE PAINS AND

DISCOURAGEMENTS ATTENDANT ON THE EXERCISE OF

OUR SACRED FUNCTIONS, IT ALONE CAN PREVENT, OR

DELIVER US FROM, ALL THE DANGERS TO WHICH THEY

EXPOSE US.

1. As there is nothing, perhaps, more dangerous in our situation than the

dissipation of mind which is, almost unavoidably, more or less produced

by the constant administration of exterior duties, I will venture to assert that

the exercise and spirit of prayer can alone preserve us from its bad effects.

It is in reality but too true, that the inward man weakens, and the life of God

decays in the soul, in the midst of all the public exercises and constant

activity which our ministerial office requires, if we do not continually give

ourselves to prayer. We are real losers ourselves, while we give up

ourselves incessantly to the wants of others; we lose the secret and hidden

life of faith, in which consists the whole soul and life of piety: we accustom

ourselves to be all outward, always from home, and never within our own

hearts: we at last appear before the people to perform the public duties of

our office with dissipated spirits, divided by a variety of foreign and

tumultuous images which occupy them; and we no more experience the

silence of the senses and of the imagination, in respect to every thing but the

great and solemn work on which we are entering, which is so necessary to

call us back to a holy recollection, and to a secret consciousness of our utter

unworthiness and incapacity of ourselves to stand between the living and

the dead. Alas! we are no more acquainted with these things!

Thus, in

laboring always for others, and hardly ever for ourselves, the spiritual

strength of the soul wears out we live entirely out of ourselves; we give

ourselves up to this life of hurry and agitation; and we at last become

incapable of any profitable communion with ourselves or with God; we

even seek for occasions and pious pretexts to fly from retirement; we cannot

be in any wise comfortable without the company of others, and are

immediately tired with God alone.

2. Now, this conduct and disposition of mind, which have nothing

blameable in them in the judgment of the world, appear in a very different

light in the sight of God. Alas! we quite exhaust our spiritual strength, if we

be not continually repairing it at the footstool of the throne of grace; all our

cares and solicitudes are confined to external things; we act and stir

outwardly for God, but we do not commune and wrestle privately with

him, though true love thinks all hours too short in communing with its

Beloved. We run, but we run alone: the Lord, whom we neglect to call to

our assistance, leaves us to our own weakness; and our ordinary humor,

temper, vivacity, vanity, and love of popularity, rule us, rather than the

genuine love of our duty, and the love of son Is.

3. There is nothing but faithfulness in the exercise of prayer, which can

save us from these rocks: and, without neglecting in the least degree the

necessary functions of our ministry, we may live in this blessed exercise;

we may continually carry with us that spirit of piety and recollection, which

moderates, regulates, and sanctifies all our external duties, and even makes

them so many preparations for returning with still greater advantage to

retirement, recollection, and communion with God. It is for these reasons,

that we are repeatedly informed in the gospels, that our Lord warned his

disciples to watch and pray, that they might not enter into temptation,

<402641>Matthew 26:41. In St. Luke he says,” Watch ye, therefore, and pray

always;” <422136>Luke 21:36. And in St. Mark, “Take ye heed, watch and pray,”

<411133>Mark 11:33.

3. OUR NECESSARY INTERCOURSE WITH THE WORLD

MAKES THE CONSTANT EXERCISE OF PRAYER

AN INDISPENSABLE DUTY.

1. Though the exercise, the spirit, the very life of prayer, are absolutely

necessary for the salvation of every private Christian, we ministers, more

than others, have continually need of the help of prayer. The more our

duties lead us into the midst of the world, the more do they expose us to its

vanity and seductions, if they be not supported by the spirit of prayer. It is

not sufficient, that we are not infected or debilitated by the contagious air

which we must there breathe; we are required to appear among men, clothed

with more strength, more modesty, more virtue, more holiness, than the

generality of professors themselves, in the midst of whom we must daily

be: we ought everywhere to be the sweet savor of Jesus Christ.

But how

difficult must it be for a minister, if the habit of prayer has not established in

him a certain solidity of virtue, to find himself continually in the midst of

the abuses and dissipations of a vain world, to hear daily the apologies

which the world makes for itself and not be shaken or weakened in the

spiritual life thereby! He carries with him a heart void of all those deep

sentiments of religion which the habit of prayer alone can engrave upon the

soul, and influenced by all those inclinations which can render the world

amiable to him! There are but too few among believers, who do not,

sometimes, feel themselves inwardly seduced and shaken by the objects

which surround them: what then can that minister do, who carries with him

but his weakness and his frailties? And though decency may keep him

within certain bounds; yet still the world is in his heart;

he adopts it for his

own; and there is nothing now to be observed, even in his public

administrations, of that firmness and becoming majesty which announce the

minister and ambassador of God: he is now like salt which has lost its

savor; and which is not only unable to preserve other things from

corruption, but is itself changed into rottenness and putrefaction.

2. A minister, therefore, who lives without the habit of prayer, without

fidelity to that sacred and indispensable means of grace, however

irreprehensible he may otherwise be in the eyes of men, is but the shadow

of a minister; he is but a bare representation of a pastor of the flock of

Christ: he has not the soul, the reality of that holy vocation; and his whole

ministry has nothing in it but an empty title; which neither binds him to

God, with whom he has no communication, nor to the church of God, to

which he is of no manner of use.

3. When I speak of the necessity of prayer for a minister of the gospel, I do

not mean that this holy exercise should occupy the greatest part of the day:

he owes himself to his flock, and his public duties ought never to suffer by

the length of his prayers. But I understand hereby that prayer should always

precede his public duties, and sanctify them; I mean, also, that the spirit of

prayer should accompany him throughout; that he should in every thing,

even in the most indifferent of his actions, show forth that “inward man,

which is renewed” through prayer, “day by day,” <470416>2 Corinthians 4:16, —

that secret commerce with God, wherein consists the essence of religion

and piety; that he render his ministry in all places respectable, and make his

very presence alone an instruction to all those who approach him. Behold

what I understand by the spirit of prayer, so essential for a minister of the

church of God.

4. We are, my brethren, divinely appointed to combat the vices and unruly

passions of the world, to destroy the empire of the devil among men, and to

establish and to extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Our ministry snatches

us from external repose, and clothes us with armor: but our arms are only

prayer and faith working by love. It is from these divine arms, under grace,

that all our instructions, all our labors, and all our efforts, derive their

whole strength and success: without these, we are but weak, rash men,

exposed without defense in the midst of enemies, with whom we ought to

have been prepared to fight; and soon become the miserable sport of their

seductions, and of the snares which they continually throw in our way: that

is to say, we soon ourselves become like to them, whom we ought to have

converted to God and gained for Jesus Christ. Like minister, like people!

Would to God my observations were never verified. But, alas! from long

experience in the ministry of the word, I am indubitably convinced, that a

minister, without the spirit of prayer and habitual recollection, cannot long

be supported in the divine life; he becomes dissipated; he neglects his

duties, especially where a cross accompanies them; or he performs them

without piety, without any of that deep inward sentiment of true religion,

and often without that respect and holy dignity which the world itself

expects: till at last he becomes a stumbling-block and an offense to the

flock, and sometimes even a public reproach to the church to which he

belongs.

PART 2.

II. I now proceed to the second head of my discourse; namely, to show the

necessity of our living in the constant exercise and spirit of prayer, as it

respects the interests of our flocks.

1. THE EXERCISE, SPIRIT, AND LIFE OF PRAYER,

Are necessary, not only to preserve us from disgust and discouragement in

our duties, and from all the dangers with which we are surrounded in all

our pastoral engagements, in our intercourse with the world, and otherwise;

but also to assure fruit and success to our ministry.

1. It is not sufficient that we run no hazard of losing our own souls; (if that

were possible, in respect to any prayerless person;) it is still more necessary

for the church of God that we be useful to others. Now, you well know,

my brethren, that we may cultivate the ground, we may plant and water, but

it is God alone who gives the increase <460306>1 Corinthians 3:6. But how can

we expect it if we be not faithful in asking it — if we do not, by our fervent

and continual prayers, draw down from heaven those blessings on our

labors which alone can make them fruitful? Too many labor without fruit,

without success, because they labor all alone, and as if the success

depended only on themselves. They expect it from their own gifts, their

own cares, and the improvement of their own understandings. They call not

Him to their assistance, who alone can give the blessing to all their toils,

and render them useful.

2. I repeat it, my brethren, the little usefulness of many ministers, even

when they fill up all the public parts of their office, is entirely owing to the

want of living in the spirit of prayer. They think they have discharged every

thing required, when they have fulfilled all the external duties of their

ministry; and never infer from the little fruit of their labors that there is some

secret vice or essential neglect which renders them useless. Thus, while

they engage not God by their prayers in the success of their undertakings;

while they begin them without solemnly and earnestly addressing

themselves to him, that he himself would prepare the hearts of those they

are going to instruct — they spend their days, as at one time did the

apostles, in casting their nets and taking nothing. They live, perhaps, a long

and painful life, (if they do not entirely plunge into the world,) and at last

die, with having done little, if any thing at all, in the gaining of immortal

souls for Jesus Christ.

2. THE CONSTANT EXERCISE AND SPIRIT OF PRAYER

ARE INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY TO OBTAIN DIVINE

UNCTION.

1. What success can that minister promise himself; on Scripture grounds,

who accustoms not himself to live within the veil — who comes not

constantly to the throne of grace, there to fill himself with the love of those

truths which he is about to declare, and with that spirit of unction which

alone can render them lovely and profitable to the people — to draw from

thence that affecting zeal, that grace, that strength, which is irresistible?

What success, I say, can he possibly promise himself, who comes to

address his audience as from God, who yet never himself speaks to God?

What dryness in his discourses! He announces truths; but they come from

his mouth, and not from his heart; nor are they those which the Father has

revealed to him in secret. He instructs with spirit; but it is with the spirit of

man, and not with the Spirit of God. He shows forth the truth; but he does

not make it amiable. Those external actions which he gives himself in order

to persuade, do not even appear to persuade, to touch, to penetrate himself.

A spiritual person easily perceives that he speaks a strange language, which

is not drawn from the bottom of his heart. Solomon, from the language of

the two women, quickly discovered the true mother. It is very easy for a

truly spiritual person to distinguish between a true and a false shepherd,

from their language and discourses — to determine which is the true father

of the flock; which is he who speaks the language of paternal love, who

bears his children on his heart; who is continually employed before God in

their behalf, and who is abundantly more jealous of their safety and

salvation than of his own titles of shepherd, minister, or ambassador of

Christ.

And I appeal to you, my brethren, for the truth of my observation

— that a holy minister, a man of prayer, with only moderate talents, will be

more successful, will leave his congregation more affected and influenced

by his discourse, than many others whose talents are vastly superior, but

who have not by prayer drawn down that unction, that tender taste of piety,

which alone knows how to speak to the heart. A minister speaks very

differently the truths he loves, and which he is accustomed to meditate

upon, and taste all his days, at the feet of Jesus Christ!

The heart has a

language which nothing can imitate. In vain does a minister thunder from

the pulpit, and put his studied actions and forced clamors in the place of zeal

and piety. We may always perceive the man: we may always feel that it is a

fire which descends not from heaven. All that vehement and forced noise in

the preacher never announces the descent of the Spirit of God upon the

hearts of those who are assembled to hear. I am not now speaking of the

genuine cries of sinners and mourners in Zion, when struck and humbled

under the word. I well know that thousands, in these lands, can refer,

under grace, their conviction or conversion to those times of weeping, of

melting, of crying, of apparent confusion in the sight of the world, but of

blessed order in the sight of God. I speak only against the substituting, on

the one hand, of human wisdom and human art, or, on the other, of noise

and clamor, for the unction of the Holy One of Israel.

2. I cannot, my brethren, help dwelling on this important subject. I must

repeat the question — what success can our discourses produce, if the

habit, and life, and spirit of prayer draw not down upon them that grace,

that unction, which alone makes them useful to those who hear? Without

this, the whole is but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. The preacher

speaks only to the ears of his audience, or at best to their understandings,

merely because the Spirit of God speaks not by his mouth.

The spirit by

which he speaks, and which animates his tongue, is not that spirit of

unction, of force, of fire, which, as it formerly moved on the face of the

waters, so now moves upon the passions of the heart quiet in its sins,

troubles it, agitates it, and then separates and clears up the chaos. It is in

vain for him to thunder or borrow his zeal from without — throughout the

whole, he only, as the apostle speaks, beats the air: his language is as cold,

as barren, as insipid as his heart; and the ministry of the word is no longer

to him but a forced duty, which disgusts him, which overwhelms him, and

from the labor of which he excuses himself as much as possible; or

otherwise it is a theater of vanity, where he rather seeks for the vile

commendations of those that hear him than for their conversion and

salvation.

3. How can that minister make the people taste the sweetness and power of

the truths of God, who has never tasted them himself, or does not at least

now taste them at the footstool of the throne? How can he ever inspire the

people with a love of prayer, or a conviction of the necessity of it, who

experiences not the consolations, nor feels the wants, which make the habit

of prayer so essential to every true believer? How can he form real

Christians, that is to say, spiritual men, “whose life is hid with Christ in

God,” — he, whose whole life is a life out of himself and out of God, and

whom the life of prayer does not cause to enter into himself, and into an

examination of his own heart? No, my brethren! Take from a minister the

spirit of prayer, and you take from him his soul, his strength, his life: he is

no more than a dead carcass, which quickly infects those who approach it.

3. MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL “ARE AMBASSADORS FOR

CHRIST, TO PRAY THE PEOPLE TO BE RECONCILED TO

GOD,”

<470520>2 Corinthians 5:20, and not only so, but to plead with God, through the

great atonement, in their behalf.

1. But how can they who are not known or acknowledged of God plead

with God for the people, when the want of the spirit of prayer has shut up

all access to his throne; when they have not contracted, by their fidelity in

the exercise of prayer, that holy familiarity with him which authorizes them

to lay before him with confidence the wants of their flocks, and to bring

down into the hearts of the penitent the blessings of pardoning love, and

into those of believers the blessings of establishing grace, strength against

temptation, and the perfect love of God; in a word, to use a sacred violence

to the mercy of God in Christ, and to speak to him all the language of

tenderness, pity, faith, and zeal in behalf of their flocks that language which

the constant habit of prayer alone can teach us?

2. “Howbeit,” says our Lord, speaking of bodily diabolical possessions,

“this kind goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting,” <401721>Matthew 17:21. And

can we imagine that less prayer is necessary to overturn the kingdom, the

power, yea, the very nature of the devil in the souls of men? What is then

sufficient for this? I answer, faith and prayer, with the promises and

blessings annexed thereto. “Verily, I say unto you,” says Christ to his

disciples,

“if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is

done to the fig-tree; but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be

thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. And all

things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall

receive,” <402121>Matthew 21:21, 22.

O that we had all of us but faith and piety sufficient to give full credit to the

word of God! then should we know and be astonished at the truth of those

words of our Savior,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works

that I do, shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do,

because I go unto my Father: and whatsoever ye shall ask in my

name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If

ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it,” <431412>John 14:12,14.

Accordingly, the great apostle, that close copier of the life of Christ, writes

to the Colossians,

“We do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be

filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual

understanding,” <510109>Colossians 1:9, etc.;

and to the Thessalonians,

“What thanks can we render to God again for you, etc., night and

day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might

perfect that which is lacking in your faith,” <520309>1 Thessalonians

3:9,10.

And we may be assured that the apostle would never have prayed so

continually and exceedingly for his flocks, if he had not been certain that his

prayers would be heard for many of them in a glorious manner.

4. IF PRAYER WERE NOT SO INDISPENSABLE FOR

OURSELVES

IN PARTICULAR AS IT IS, WE OWE IT TO OUR PEOPLE.

1. Are we not charged, by our character of pastor and minister, to pray for

them without ceasing? Is it not a duty incumbent on us to lay before God

the wants of our flocks, and to solicit for them the riches of his mercy?

Should we not groan before him by reason of the vices with which too

many of our hearers among whom we labor are infected; and which all our

cares and all our zeal are not able to correct? Are we not bound to ask at the

throne strength for the weak, compunction for hard-hearted sinners, and

perseverance for the righteous? The more numerous the wants of our

people, the more earnest and frequent should be our prayers. We should

never appear before God, but, like the high-priest of the law, bearing before

the Most High the names of the tribes written on our hearts; that is to say,

the names of the people intrusted to our care: this should always be a

principal subject of our prayers. Such is the order of the dispensation of

grace. Though every genuine Christian is a king and priest to God and the

Father, ministers especially are the public conduit-pipes, through which the

divine grace and blessings run to the people: they form the grand public

resource, by the instrumentality of which the goodness of God in Christ

corrects the disorders which reign among men.

2. You see, then, my brethren, on the whole, that prayer is the most

intimate and inseparable duty of a gospel minister: it is, if I may so speak,

the soul of his office: it is, under the grace of God, his only safety. This

alone sweetens all the distastes and discouragements he meets with: this

alone guards him from all the dangers with which he is surrounded from his

intercourse with the world, or from the spirit of professors themselves: this

alone, under grace, assures success to his ministry; alone imparts the divine

unction to his discourses; alone enables him to give a taste of the divine

truths to the people, having first tasted them himself in communion with his

God; alone qualifies him to plead successfully with God in behalf of his

flock; and therefore is an absolutely indispensable debt which he owes to

his people.

I shall now conclude the whole with a few general deductions from what

has been advanced.

1. A minister, who lives not in the spirit and exercise of prayer, who prays

only in a formal manner at set seasons, to satisfy a hardened conscience, is

no pastor; he is a stranger, who is nowise interested by the wants of his

flock: the people who are intrusted to his care are not his children; they are

poor orphans without a father; his heart, his bowels, say nothing in their

behalf; he loves the title which puts them under his direction, but he loves

not that which is a grand means of their conversion and salvation: he loves

not the office of a shepherd he loves not the flock: for if he loved it, could

he omit any essential duty in behalf of the faithful, the mourners, or the

sinners, intrusted to his care, to the end that none of those whom the Father

had given him might perish? What say you, my brethren?

A pastor, who

lives not in the exercise of prayer for his people, not only loves them not,

but deprives them of that which they have a right to exact from him: in

depriving them of his prayers he deprives them of a resource to which God

is always pleased to adjoin many graces, many blessings: he fills the place

of a holy shepherd, whose prayers would have drawn down a thousand

blessings on the poor flock, and is absolutely guilty, in a great degree, of all

the crimes which the prayers of that holy man would have prevented.

Examine, therefore, if you be faithful in representing to God all the wants

of your people; if you be solicitous, importunate, to draw down upon them

the gracious regard of a good God. O, brethren, the fervent prayers of a

faithful pastor are rarely useless. That God, who has charged us to pray for

our people, has also promised to hear us.

2 . May I venture, without offense, to urge the following objection

(conscious how inapplicable it is to most, if not all of you, my brethren) —

“How can a traveling preacher have much leisure for prayer, in the midst of

the vast multiplicity of business which a circuit requires?”

Alas! In the midst

of all our labors and cares, how many vacant, unemployed moments have

we? Can a pastor, an ambassador of Christ to mankind, God’s minister,

charged with the important office of presenting the wishes and prayers of

the congregation before the throne, not have time to present his own — a

dispenser of the doctrines and graces of the gospel not hold constant

intercourse with Him who has intrusted to him this glorious ministry, and

in the name of whom he speaks and acts — never render an account to God

of the gifts and celestial riches with which he has been intrusted! The royal

psalmist says of himself, “I give myself unto prayer,” <19A904>Psalm 109:4. And

again,

“Evening and morning and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud:

and he shall hear my voice,” <195517>Psalm 55:17.

And once more, “Seven times a day do I praise thee,” <19B9104>Psalm 119:104.

Now, can any of us imagine that the concerns of a mighty empire, which

lay on the mind of the royal psalmist, were less than the care of a circuit?

Again, the Scripture informs us that Daniel, when prime minister of the

greatest kingdom in the world,

“kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed

and gave thanks before God,” <270610>Daniel 6:10.

O that the Lord would now pour out upon us all, more abundantly than

ever, the spirit of grace and supplication!

3 . It is not, my brethren, the devotion of a part of your lives in the exercise

of prayer which we so much press upon you, as the privilege and

consolation of those souls, retired into themselves, who are occupied in

meditating on the wonders of the law and grace of God; and who taste, far

from the world, and in the secret places of his tabernacle, what happiness

they enjoy who love nothing in comparison to him, and who hold

communion incessantly with him. That which is essential to us, is the spirit

of prayer, which we ought to carry with us continually and into all our

duties: that which is particularly requisite for us, is, before we enter on our

public offices, always to go to the feet of Jesus Christ, there to fill

ourselves with that spirit which enables us to perform our duties holily for

ourselves, and usefully for others: it is, when we have finished our public

duties, to go for some precious moments to refresh ourselves before God,

and there to recover fresh strength to begin them again with new zeal: it is,

to accustom ourselves to this secret and almost perpetual intercourse with

God; to find him everywhere; to find ourselves always with him; and in

every place, and every thing, to find occasion to raise ourselves up to him.

Behold in what sense a minister of the gospel should be a man of prayer. O,

my brethren, if this spirit of prayer animate not all our duties, we shall have

much reason to complain while we are performing all that is painful in

them, and omitting the only thing which can soften them, support us under

them, and give them, under God, the wished-for success.

4. What a misfortune then is it, for a people to have over them a prayerless

pastor; I mean one who does not live in the life, and spirit, and exercise of

prayer; one who is governed by a spirit of dissipation, destitute of the spirit

of prayer and recollection; who is kept only by the fear of man from falling

into scandalous disorders! What assistance can this unfortunate people

promise themselves from such a minister! Can he administer to them those

words of piety, unction, and consolation, which can only be received from

Him “in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells for the church which

is his body?” Can he successfully oppose the vices and public disorders

which surround him? O! to be properly affected by these, he must be filled

by that zeal which is the flame of love; he must feel the value of the souls

among which he labors: but, to have a heart susceptible of this zeal and this

sympathy, he must be often softened and melted down at the foot of the

cross, in meditating on the price which these souls have cost our adorable

Redeemer. I therefore once more say, in what a miserable state is that

unfortunate people who are cursed with a prayerless minister!

He should

have been like a salubrious cloud, placed between the heavens and the

precious field confided to his care. He should, by the habitual exercise of

prayer, have received from on high those holy influences with which he

should incessantly have watered, enriched, and rendered fruitful, that land

which he is charged to cultivate. But, having no communication with

heaven by prayer, he is only one of those “clouds without water, carried

about of wind,” <650112>Jude 12. No heavenly dew flows from his bosom; he

imparts nothing, because he receives nothing: or, if he do impart any thing,

it is only some dreadful rumor, a stench and a public noise of his scandal

and fall!

5. Let us, my brethren, lay to heart these sacred truths. Let us never lose

sight of them through the course of our lives. The spirit of prayer is the

essential spirit of Christianity: but IT IS THE SOUL, THE SUBSTANCE, THE LIFE

OF A GOSPEL MINISTRY. Every thing in our exterior duties tends to unite us

to God — To raise us up to him: and shall our spirit and our heart only be

unmoved, in the midst of so many sacred employments, which call us back

to him: in the midst of so many graces and lovingkindnesses as we are

continually endeavoring to dispense in the ministry of the word, and which

flow from him alone: in the midst of so many errors, disorders, and vices,

which we daily see increasing among the people who surround us, and

which call so loud upon us to implore his pity, and to have recourse to Him

alone who can correct them? All these things considered is it possible for

any one of us to regard a secret and constant intercourse with God as a pain

and a cross; and in respect to present the experience, be obliged to consider

him as the people did formerly in the midst of Athens, AN UNKNOWN GOD!

6. In short, a real minister of the gospel is a man of prayer. Prayer is his

grand employment, his safety, his first and perpetual duty; and, I may add,

is, under grace, the grand source of his consolation. Our instructions will

be always barren, if they be not watered with our tears and prayers. Even if

our gifts be small, but we support them by our prayers, our defects will be

in a great measure supplied ,and divine unction become the blessed

substitute.

7. Therefore I once more, for all, repeat it again, a minister who prays not,

who is not in love with prayer, is not a minister of the church of God: he is

a dry tree, which occupies in vain a place in Christ’s garden: he is an

enemy, and not a father, of the people, he is a stranger, who has taken the

place of the the shepherd, and to whom the salvation of the flock is an

indifferent thing. Be then, my brethren, faithful in prayer, and your

ministry will be more and more useful; your labors will be more and more

delightful to you; and the evils of the church of Christ, and of the world in

general, will the daily diminish.

“O my God, give to all the ministers of thy gospel a tender and

paternal heart toward their people; then will they always know how

to address thee in their behalf; then will their zealous spirits be one

continual prayer, speaking to thee for the souls which lie so near to

their hearts! But, more particularly, bless the preachers of our

connection, throughout Europe and America, with the abundance of

thy grace, and of this spirit of prayer. Glory be given to thee, thou

hast already bestowed much of it upon them: O! preserve it, increase

it, enflame it, till their very life be one constant sacrifice to thee; till,

by being daily stamped with brighter and brighter characters of

thyself, they continually bring down, like thy servant Moses, a

bright shining from the Mount.”

 

Duties of a Minister 3

DISCOURSE 3

“Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry,

<550405>2 Timothy 4:5.

PART 1

1. In my former discourses on St. Paul’s charge to Timothy, we

considered the necessity of true zeal in all the public duties of the ministry,

and in our intercourse with the people of the world, and the necessity of

watchfulness and enduring afflictions. We come now to enlarge on the two

remaining particulars of the charge, “Do the work of an evangelist, “make

full proof of thy ministry.”

2. The apostle’s solemn and pointed manner of writing to Timothy, not

only for his own sake, but for the benefit of the church in all ages, will

appear the more necessary and indispensable, if we recollect that the

corruption of the ministry has been alway the grand source of the corruption

of a people, of the general depravation of their manners, and of the

extinction of all the faith.

3. Those who are acquainted with the religious history of Christendom,

well know, that in proportion as the ministers of a church are holy, holiness

will reign among the people. The purity of Christianity, wherever it has

flourished, never has begun to decay but with the fall of the ministry; and

disorder has generally begun at the house of God. Thus it is in a

considerable measure we who decide, if I may so speak, on the salvation or

damnation of the people: upon us, in some sense, depend the increase or

diminution of the reign of Jesus Christ upon earth, the consummation or

destruction of his work, the utility or inutility of his blood and mission, the

glory or reproach of his religion, and all the designs of God concerning the

salvation of man.

4. From the moment we enter on the ministry of the gospel, we become

either holy pillars to support the feeble, or stones of offense against which

the strong themselves may break in pieces: we become either brazen

serpents raised on high, to heal through grace the plagues of the multitude,

or golden calves placed in the camp of the Lord, to be an occasion to them

of apostasy, wickedness, and idolatry. We are so situated, that we can

neither stand nor fall alone: the destiny of those souls over whom we are set

is in a considerable degree awfully attached to ours!

5. Now, what a frightful situation is this for an unfaithful pastor! He may

continually say to himself, “I am employed in the church to destroy and not

to build up: I am become the tempter and murderer of those souls of whom

I ought to have been instrumentally the savior and the father. I am charged

with a dispensation of the gospel, and yet only make every thing which

should facilitate the salvation of souls turn out to their ruin; and I, in effect,

employ against religion all that which religion has intrusted me with for its

maintenance and support.” Behold here, without exceeding the truth, the

character of a bad minister. Certainly, my brethren, a bad minister is the

greatest plague which the wrath of God can suffer to spring up among any

people.

6. But the more the situation of an unfaithful pastor is to be deplored, the

more full of consolation is the character of a true minister of the Lord Jesus

Christ. He continues on earth the mission and ministry of his adorable

Master. He co-operates with him in the consummation of the happiness of

the saints, in the edification of his mystic body, and in the accomplishment

of all his designs of mercy toward man. He is instrumentally here below, as

Christ himself, a savior of his people, a reconciler of heaven and earth: and

when he shall one day appear before the throne of the great Judge of quick

and dead, with all his own, he will be able to say to him with confidence,

“Behold me, and the children thou hast given me. Those that thou gavest

me I have kept, and none of them is lost. I render them back to thee,

because thou didst deliver them to me, that they might be sanctified through

thy truth, and might sing with all thy redeemed the eternal praises of thy

grace.”

7. O what a heavenly calling, my brethren, is ours! But our duties are as

great and as heavenly as our vocation. Let us, then, together animate each

other, both by the eminence and importance of our ministry, and by the

glorious and comfortable fruits which are the consequences of its faithful

administration!

8. Can we now be surprised at the repetition, in effect, which we find in

the apostle’s charge; or rather the different points of view in which he holds

forth the duties of the gospel ministry?

1st. “Preach the word.”

2dly. “Be instant in season, out of season: reprove, rebuke, exhort,

with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

3dly. “Watch in all things.”

4thly. “Endure affliction.”

5thly. “Do the work of an evangelist.”

6thly. “Make full proof of thy ministry.”

The first four of these we have enlarged upon. We now come to the fifth,

— “Do the work of an evangelist.”

The word “evangelist,” in its most comprehensive sense, implies a preacher

of glad tidings, or, in other words, a preacher of the gospel, with all his

concomitant duties. In the apostolic age, it more particularly signified an

extraordinary minister, appointed to assist the apostles in preaching and

publishing the gospel — in watering what the apostles planted: and in this

sense also it contained a very extensive meaning. But, at present, it is

generally applied to those inspired writers who were employed by the Spirit

of God to record the life and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must

here, however, consider the word in its most enlarged sense; for Timothy

was, without doubt, in every point of view, a minister of the gospel.

1. IN CONSIDERING THIS DIVISION OF OUR SUBJECT,

WE SHALL, FIRST, TAKE A REVIEW OF THE NUMEROUS

ADVANTAGES OF A ZEALOUS GOSPEL MINISTRY.

1. A faithful minister, who consecrates himself to every good word and

work, who enters into the minute examination of all the miseries and wants

of his brethren, and labors to find a remedy for them all — represent, if you

can, all the works of salvation and mercy among men, of which such a

minister will be the instrument, through the blood of the covenant and the

grace of the Spirit! He heals those hearts which are sick and alienated from

God: he pierces the darkness with which shame so often covers the

indigent, and in affording them, by the means at least of his benevolent

friends, a secret succor, spares them even the confusion of being relieved:

useful institutions for the instruction or relief of the poor and the stranger,

which come within his circle, find in his care, or in his zeal, resources

which establish them, or which preserve them from falling, and give them a

new solidity. O what public disorders does he prevent; what occasions of

salvation does he improve! He stirs up the pious, and makes them useful in

the conversion or sanctification of others; he presides at every holy

enterprise; he is, as it were, the soul of piety in his circuit; even the greater

part of those sinners who attend his ministry, but still live in sin or vanity,

feel a hope that some day they shall be converted by his means.

He

animates all; he finds remedies for all. There is no public good within his

circle, and consistent with his calling, to which he does not sacrifice

himself; no good undertaking which he prevents; no sinner who does not

appear worthy of his zeal. In short, there is nothing which can quench or

stop his divine ardor, or the holy fervor of his love; “and there is nothing

hid from the heat thereof,” <191906>Psalm 19:6.

2. We read, <121321>2 Kings 13:21, that the corpse of a man being thrown near

the dead body of Elisha, it instantly revived; those eyes which death had

closed, open again; his tongue is unloosed; and we see him come from the

abode of death, and again enjoy life and light. Alas, my brethren, carcasses

the most putrefied, souls in which spiritual death and the corruption of sin

have reigned abundantly longer, can hardly approach a holy minister, an

ambassador of God, dead to himself, to the world and all its hopes, but

they instantly, through grace, feel a virtue go from him, a breath of life

which begins to reanimate them, to inspire into them good desires, and to

rouse them from their lethargy; and which, in those who are faithful to these

beginnings, will produce the fruits of grace and salvation.

3. And then his example! His piety, his disinterestedness, his mortified

spirit, his modesty, his ministerial gravity, have such a secret, constant,

powerful in influence, that he may be truly said to be sent for the salvation

of many. It is true, that neither the example nor labors of the holiest

ministers can have the least influence in the regeneration or salvation of

souls without the unction of the Holy Spirit; but the person, the words, the

actions of a devoted ambassador of Christ, are all anointed, and breathe

forth the savor of Jesus’ name. What a happiness must it be to a people

when God raises among them holy ministers, whose deep piety and

crucified lives serve, so to speak, as spectacles to angels and men They are

a continual gospel before their eyes! “Do,” therefore, “the work of an

evangelist.”

2. FROM HENCE APPEARS THE NECESSITY OF EMINENT

ZEAL; IN ORDER TO INFLAME WITH DIVINE LOVE THE

HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE, AND TO BEAR DOWN ALL THE

OBSTACLES WHICH OPPOSE THE SPREAD OF THE

GOSPEL.

1. Frozen discourses will never set on fire the souls of the hearers. Indeed,

how can those ministers even appear to the people as animated with that

divine fire which carries the sparks of grace to the coldest and most

insensible hearts, who themselves are all ice in the practice of every duty;

and who feel not themselves all alive for the salvation of either their

brethren or themselves? If we fill up our public duties with an air of

custom, of weariness, of reluctance, (which is inseparable from a life of

lukewarmness,) and of unfaithfulness in the pastoral office, we shall leave

the same dispositions in those who hear us. Our labors will rouse neither

our faith nor piety, and will leave the same spiritual death on the minds of

our audience. Alas! my brethren, even in a holy and fervent minister, it calls

for prodigies of zeal, application, patience, and labor to bear down all the

obstacles which the world, the devil, and the present corruption of

manners, oppose to the success of his ministry. What then can the

cowardly, idle minister promise himself from his baseness and idleness?

What fruit can he expect from a field to which he never puts but a feeble,

languishing hand; and which seems to be intrusted to him, to be the sport of

his cruel neglect, rather than the object of his care?

2. “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee

out of my mouth,” <660316>Revelation 3:16, says Christ. If a private professor,

who lives in the spirit of lukewarmness, is unfit for the kingdom of heaven,

and is rejected out of the mouth of Christ, as a lukewarm and disgusting

drink which raises the stomach; what is a minister good for, who does the

particular work of God negligently? What an object of disgust for a God

who is jealous of his gifts! What an afflicting spectacle to that part of the

church of God which beholds it — to see a place in that ministry which is

designed for zeal, for labor, and for the salvation of souls, filled by a

lukewarm, idle minister, instead of a faithful laborer; instead of one who

would have enlarged the kingdom of Jesus Christ who would have

snatched from their miseries a glorious number of sinners, who would have

edified and built up believers, and been the glory of Christ. <470823>2 Corinthians

8:23.

3. Could the gospel have been spread through so large a part of the world,

and the foolishness of the cross have triumphed over numerous and great

nations, if those apostolic men who have preceded us had regarded the

oppositions which the people, yea, which the whole pagan world, made to

the progress of the gospel? Where should we have been, if difficulties

insurmountable by human prudence had abated their zeal or suspended their

labors; or if, in the persuasion of finding us as we were, savage and

rebellious, they had unhappily left us to the darkness of our primitive

ignorance? Do you fear inconveniences? But what is there to fear for a

pastor who fills up his ministry with edification and fidelity? “What?” it

may be answered, “Contempt, reproaches, and contradictions.” But these

are his glory, and form part of the present consoling reward of his zeal.

“What?” it may be added, “Evil treatment and insults of various kinds.”

But

these are the most honorable seals of his apostleship. I grant, however,

3dly. 1. That all this zeal should be continually guarded; and that the

universal maxim, which binds every private member of the church of

Christ, should be particularly written on the hearts of his ministers — “Let

your moderation be known unto all men,” <500405>Philippians 4:5. There is a

modesty which should run through the whole character of a minister of

Christ, and should manifest itself in all his words and actions; yea, even

upon those occasions when he most unbends his mind.

2. Nothing is of more importance than the moderation and modesty of

ministers who are consecrated to the Lord. The same decency, the same

circumspection, the same majesty, which accompanies them in their public

duties, should follow them everywhere; and as they are everywhere to

consider themselves as the ambassadors of Christ, they ought everywhere

to support the dignity of this character, in the wisdom of their words, in the

chaste decency of their dress, and in the seriousness of all their actions. I

have already, in a former discourse, spoken on this subject; but I would

wish to enlarge a little farther, on account of its importance.

3. If the sacred writings, by which we shall be judged, make every idle

word a transgression; if the gospel exacts from every private Christian such

circumspection, reserve, and modesty in conversation — what does it not

require from the immediate ministers of Jesus Christ! The lips of ministers

are, next to the word of God, the depositaries of divine knowledge, which

they are incessantly to administer to the people; and when the Spirit of God

calls them to the ministry, he says to them in some sense, as formerly to the

prophet,

“I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the

shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the

foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people,”

<235116>Isaiah 51:16.

That is to say, to the end that you may make — as a new heaven and a new

earth, or at least as a part of it, — the people intrusted to your care; that you

may accustom them to regard me as the only God who deserves their

affections and homage; that they may learn to regard themselves as a holy

people, consecrated to me alone; that the heaven and earth which they

behold are the works of my liberal hand, which, with all things they

contain, deserve not their affections; and that I have prepared for them a

heaven infinitely more glorious and eternal, where they shall enjoy, with

my redeemed, pleasures for evermore. What follows from hence but that

our tongue is no more our own; that it is consecrated to the Word of God,

and the edification of the people; that witticisms and vain discourses are

unlawful amusements in the mouths of believers; but that they are

profanations in ours!

4. Far be it from me to speak against the relaxations of innocent society:

but that which I would say, my brethren, is this — that our conversation

should be always marked with a peculiar character of piety, gravity, and

modesty; that, in conversing, we should with a holy joy endeavor to edify

each other; and all around us, with words of love and truth; and that we

should banish from our discourse all profane and immoderate joy, and all

the low and all the genteel pleasantries of the world.

5. I would just add, that all our relaxations, even when we most unbend

our minds, should have in them a peculiarity of decency, reserve, and

seriousness. I know that both the soul and body need relaxation but those

moments which we give to nature are neither useful nor permitted, but as

they dispose us for our duties, and prepare us for farther toil. Repose is

appointed for us, to the end that we may gain new strength to continue our

course; and therefore every kind of relaxation which tends to estrange us

from it, to discourage us, or to inspire us with a distaste of our toil and

public labors, is to us improper, yea, criminal.

6. But as for you, my brethren, permit me to finish this head of my

discourse with those words of the apostle, “Ye have not so learned Christ,”

<490420>Ephesians 4:20. No, brethren: it is not thus that you dishonor your

ministry: it is not thus that you turn into a stumblingblock the sacred

character which you have received from Jesus Christ for their salvation.

Continue, then, my brethren, to conduct yourselves before your people in a

manner worthy the holiness and gravity of your vocation. We live in times

when infidelity moves with gigantic strides; when the licentiousness of the

public manners leaves us nothing to avoid the malignity of suspicion, and

the contempt of the world, but this respectable gravity, modesty, and piety,

supported throughout the minutest particulars of our conduct and manners.

Irreligion is come to a point; and the world is charmed to find so many

ministers like themselves. It seems to be a victory and gain to them, when

they can persuade themselves, or when they can perceive, that any ministers

tread under foot the duties of their station. They see not that the

unfaithfulness and misconduct of ministers consecrated to the service of

religion is the greatest judgment God can inflict upon a people, except the

entire removal of the candlestick of the gospel. <660205>Revelation 2:5. Let none

of us then, my brethren, increase the blindness of the world, by confirming

it in its errors through our example. O! let none of us become stones of

stumbling, and the most grievous plagues to those to whom we should be

guides in the way of salvation!

7. In a word, my brethren, feed the flock which is in trusted to your care,

with the tenderness of fathers, with the vigilance of guides, and with all the

modesty, simplicity, and holiness, which becomes ministers of Jesus

Christ. Let your example, under the grace of God, give you assurance of

the fruit and success of your ministry: appear not occupied or touched with

any thing but their salvation: forget, as it were, your own temporal interests;

or never put them in the balance with the interest of their souls. Consider

yourselves as theirs. Your calling, your mission, your functions, are only

for them: give yourselves then wholly to them, as if you were created only

for their benefit. “Do the work of an evangelist.”

PART 2

I now proceed to the last head of my subject “Make full proof of your

ministry.” So fulfill the whole, that none may charge you with the neglect

of your duty. Let the world see that you make it your own and only work to

win souls.

1. How strong and comprehensive is this commandment! Should we not

therefore frequently examine ourselves concerning the purity of our zeal and

of our motives in respect to all the parts of our ministerial office — whether

“we make full proof of our ministry” in the sight of God as well as man?

When we enter on any employment, should we not first inquire, Will God

be glorified by this undertaking? Is it his work which I am entering upon?

Is that which I purpose to myself; really my duty? Does divine love

influence me to comfort the afflicted, to strengthen the weak, and to bring

sinners to Christ? Does divine zeal urge me to cultivate in secret the fruits of

my public labors; to support the rising conversation by spiritual discourse;

to heal domestic dissensions by the counsels of meekness and wisdom; to

reconcile fathers to their children; to restore to wives the affections of their

husbands; and to carry the peace of Jesus Christ into all the families I visit?

Does the spirit of ministerial vigilance and holy solicitude lead me into every

work of mercy and piety? Do I “make full proof of my ministry?”

2. Do I visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions? <590127>James 1:27.

Do I prefer “the house of mourning to the house of feasting?”

<210702>Ecclesiastes 7:2. Can a father see his children on the point of being taken

from him, without running to their succor, and leaving with them at least

some farewell marks of consolation and tenderness? And is he a shepherd,

or a savage, who sees his infirm, perhaps dying sheep, and condescends

not to offer them at least his spiritual assistance? No, my brethren; a pastor

who neglects the sick of his flock must have a heart as hard as a stone, or as

light as vanity. “I was sick,” will Christ say, “and ye visited me not,”

<402543>Matthew 25:43.

And if a poor sinner on the verge of eternity, though not a member of our

society implore my assistance at that awful period; shall I refuse him my

hand? How little must I know of, or at least how little regard, the value of a

soul, if I do not fly to his rescue? for who knows but he may be called,

even by my instrumentality, at the last hour of the day? And what shall I

answer before the tremendous Judge at his awful bar, when all the intricate

threads of human events are fully unraveled, if I find that that immortal

soul, now lost for ever would have been saved if I had been faithful? Will

not his blood, will not his soul, be required at my hands? God enable us to

“make full proof of our ministry!” But again,

3. Do I faithfully visit the poor? If such as neglect to feed the poor with

material bread, shall on the great day be placed on the left hand of the

Judge, how can those escape condemnation whose office is to dispense to

them spiritual bread, if they neglect so sacred a charge? I well know that the

generality of our traveling preachers are unable, out of their little pittance, to

afford much to the poor, for the supply of those temporal remedies or

comforts which their miseries demand; and therefore this is not what the

gospel particularly requires of them; nor do the poor in general, who know

them, expect it from them: though I have no doubt but you, my brethren,

give according to your ability, yea, and many of you, as the apostle says,

beyond it; softening at least by your cares, your sensibility, your advice,

and your prayers, the pains and distresses of your poorer brethren, and

suffering and sympathizing with those whom you cannot temporally

relieve. We are, you know, ministers of things future; and the riches which

God showers upon the people by our means, are the riches of grace and

eternal glory.

Let us then be, if possible, more ready to succor, with our prayers and

advice, those among our people whose poverty incapacitates them from

recompensing our labors, than those who might reward them by temporal

kindnesses, and at the same time least need our counsels. Let us not divide

our cares among our people according to the means they possess to

compensate for them but according to the need they have of the assistance

of our ministry. Let the name of the poor be honorable in our eyes.

Let us

not have the hardness of heart to add to the distresses of their situation that

of our neglect and indifference; but let us make ample amends for our want

of power to supply their bodily necessities, by our zeal and assiduity in the

things which relate to their souls: let us make them conscious that their

poverty is a title which only endears them the more to us, as making them

more dependent upon us, and ourselves in consequence more responsible

for them. Let us consider them as the most privileged part of our flock; as,

in their outward condition, most resembling Christ when he abode upon

earth in the flesh. Let us consider ourselves happy in a constant interest in

their prayers. “The Lord heareth the poor,” <196933>Psalm 69:33 says the

psalmist. When they are poor in spirit, also, then it is the voice of that dove

which is always heard and answered, that groans within them. Let us suffer

with them in compassionating their pain: let us remember that our mission,

like that of our adorable Redeemer, is peculiarly to the poor. “The Spirit of

the Lord is upon me,” says Christ by Isaiah, “because he hath anointed me

to preach the gospel to the poor; and “this day,” says he in the synagogue,

“is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” <236101>Isaiah 61:1; <420418>Luke 4:18, 21.

“Go,” says our Lord to the disciples of John the Baptist,

“and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the

blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed,

and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the

gospel preached to them,” <401104>Matthew 11:4, 5.

As if he had said to them, Your master is so perfectly acquainted with the

nature of the Messiah’s kingdom, and the entire crucifixion to the pomps

and vanities of the world which its members must necessarily experience,

that one of the strongest proofs to him that I am Christ, will be this — that

“the poor have the gospel preached unto them.” Let us then, my brethren,

be thankful that we labor among a people who are in general poor; for it is

among such that the grace of the Spirit of God is most abundantly shed

abroad. We receive, it is true, but little from their indigence; but the harvest

is always rich for Jesus Christ! Well did the primitive bishop, on the

demand of the Roman emperor, that he should deliver up all the treasures of

his church, bring to him the poor indigent members of his flock, who,

though destitute of worldly comforts, were rich in faith! So it has been, is,

and probably will be, till the great millennial year rushes in upon the world.

Let us then take delight in daily visiting the poor: let none of us manifest so

little faith and crucifixion to the world as to regard those ministers most

happy who labor among the rich. They may be better paid; but will their

usefulness be greater? They may find those who are most ready, because

most able to supply their temporal wants; but will they find those who are

most ready to profit by their instructions? The thorns and anxiety

accompanying riches, generally choke and stifle the word of God.

<401322>Matthew 13:22. The field may be more adorned, but the soil in general is

barren and ungrateful. While, on the contrary, a minister who faithfully

labors among a poor people, possessing simple and teachable spirits,

penetrated with a love of the great obvious and essential truths of the

gospel, and submissive in their indigence to the divine hand which corrects

them such a one, I say, has the consolation of daily seeing his ministry

abundant in fruits for heaven. Let us then consider it as one of our highest

duties to visit the poor: let us not account our labors in any wise

recompensed, but when they produce the fruits of life and salvation; and let

us not estimate concerning our duties or station, except by the gains we can

make thereby for Jesus Christ our Lord.

4. When all these holy duties, privileges and vocations are duly estimated,

may not the minister of the gospel profitably enter into some such soliloquy

as the following? “I can neither through my unfaithfulness damn, nor

through grace save, myself alone. From the time that I enter the holy

ministry, I must necessarily be either a plague sent from God, or permitted

in his wise providence for the punishment of mankind, or a gift from

heaven for their blessing and felicity. I must resemble either that dragon in

the Revelation, who, in falling, drew with him the third part of the stars of

heaven, or that great antitype of the brazen serpent, Jesus Christ, who being

lifted up draws all who believe to himself, and heals all the diseases and

infirmities of the people. I have only this alternative.

“What a most powerful motive is this for fidelity in my office; for

watchfulness over my conduct; for zeal in my ministry; for filial fear

in my situation; for a continual renewal in the spirit of my vocation

for glowing hope, or confusion, in the expectation of the coming of

the great Bishop of souls, who will then demand from me an

account of the use or neglect of my talents, and who will present to

me those souls which he had intrusted to my care, either as my

condemnation, if they have perished through my neglect, or as my

glory and crown if they have under his grace found life and

salvation by the means of my ministry!”

5 .“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things

are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,

if there be any virtue. and if there be any praise, think on these

things,” <500408>Philippians 4:8.

“Whatsoever things are true,” — hold in its purity that most sacred

depository of faith and truth, the holy word of God. Draw from the pure

sources, from the Scriptures, all the principles of holiness and morality, by

which you should regulate your own conduct, and that of your flocks.

Never depart from those rules of truth, without which all that bears the

name of piety is nothing but hypocrisy, and a scandal to others.

“Whatsoever things are honest,” — show a due reservedness in your

manners and conversations. Let nothing which is in the least degree

indecent, or contrary to the sanctity of your ministry, ever escape you. Bear

always on your countenance a holy modesty, and that ministerial gravity,

which make religion respectable even to those who love it not: avoid all

suspicious familiarities; and remember, that your willfully saying or doing

any thing which may cause suspicion, is a crime in a minister, which

innocence itself cannot justify.

“Whatsoever things are just,” — let the most delicate and in violable

equity be manifested in all your conduct, disinterestedness in all the

exercises of your ministry, prudence and love in your zeal, and an equal

affection (as ministers) toward all the faithful who are in trusted to your

care, as you are equally the spiritual fathers of them all; no animosity,

except against vice; no predilection, but in favor of holiness: no acceptance

of persons; but let the wants alone of your flocks regulate all your cares and

all your attention.

“Whatsoever things are pure,” — Inspire the people with a due respect

for all the ordinances of the gospel, by administering them yourselves in the

fear of God and with holy dignity. On all such occasions, appear as the

elders before the throne of the Lamb, struck with the majesty of God, and

expecting a revelation of his love to your own souls and those of the people;

and let such modesty, awe, and depth of piety be manifested in all your

administrations, that your people may learn from your whole deportment

what dispositions are necessary for themselves on such occasions. But,

above all, and in all, and through all, let us press upon every one the

necessity of holiness. Let us never forget our calling — that we were called

and sent forth to raise a holy people. Let all your doctrines, and all your

discipline, all your labors, and all your conversation, center in this. Let this

be the grand burden of your testimony — “Without holiness no man shall

see the Lord.”

“Whatsoever things are lovely,” — render yourselves amiable in the

eyes of your people, if you would be useful to them; amiable, not by

improper familiarities, but by partaking of their afflictions, and becoming

their comforters in all their distresses. Gain their hearts, and draw their

souls to Jesus Christ. Render not your sacred function odious by the

rudeness, the moroseness, or the caprice of your humors; nor contemptible,

by a baseness of sentiment. Refuse not upon any occasion, to the believers

or penitents who are committed to your charge, your assistance or advice,

since you owe to them your very life. Be their consolation, and they will be

yours; love them as your children, and they will love you as their fathers.

“Whatsoever things are of good report,” — Neglect nothing which

can preserve your reputation pure and spotless in the judgment of your

people. Abstain from every thing, even the most lawful, which can become

a cause of offense to your brethren. Remember that the fruit of your

ministry is in a great measure attached to the good opinion they have of

you. Disgrace not, therefore, our holy religion, by disgracing yourselves.

Let your examples prepare the way for the success of your instructions. Let

no one have occasion to reproach you for doing that which you are obliged

to testify against to others; and let the sweet savor of your lives spread

through your circuits, and become itself a constant censure of the vices or

faults of others.

In short, my brethren, if the remembrance of the glorious army of martyrs,

whose blood became the seed of the church, can affect you; if the example

of your late venerable father in the gospel [John Wesley], and of the first

Methodist preachers, who endured the heat and burden of the day, and bore

the ark of the testimony against an opposing world, can move you; if you

have ruling within you (as I doubt not you have) the principles of holiness

and truth — “if there be any virtue, think on these things.” If our most

excellent discipline, so faithfully enforced by your predecessors, inspire

you with a sacred emulation; if you be ashamed to degenerate from the holy

fortitude of those who have gone before you, whose praise is in all our

churches, — “if there be any praise, think on these things.” Then, under

almighty grace, you will continue to do honor to your holy ministry; you

will be the blessed means of sanctifying the people, and “the God of peace

will be ever with you.

 

Duties of a Minister 2

DISCOURSE 2

“Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an

evangelist, make full proof thy ministry,” <550405>2 Timothy 4:5.

PART 1

In my discourse on the former part of the apostle’s charge to Timothy, I

considered the zeal which the ministers of the gospel should constantly

manifest for the salvation of souls; particularly in all the public duties of

their office, and by the improvement of every opportunity afforded them to

bear a testimony for God to the people of the world. We now proceed to

speak upon the remaining particulars of this solemn charge.

I. “Watch thou in all things.” The duty of watchfulness cannot be too

strongly impressed on every private Christian; for, without the constant

exercise of it, the life of God cannot possibly be preserved in the soul. But

to enlarge on the duty as it respects the private character would carry me

beyond the limits of a discourse; and therefore I shall chiefly consider it as it

belongs to the office of a minister of the gospel.

The spirit of our ministry is a spirit of separation from the world; of prayer

and secret intercession for the souls of men, and, especially for the church

of Christ; of labor; of firmness and fidelity; of knowledge; and of piety. Our

watchfulness, therefore, as ministers, should be particularly directed against

those things which oppose the above essential properties of the spirit of our

calling.

1. AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD,

BECAUSE THE SPIRIT OF OUR MINISTRY

IS A SPIRIT OF SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD.

1 . That unction from above which reserves us, sanctifies us, sets us apart

for the ministry, (and if we have not received it we are no ministers,)

withdraws us also from all the other public functions of society; not that we

cease from being citizens of our country, or from the obedience and

submission due to the king, and all that are in authority — to the powers

that are; for “the powers which be are ordained of God,” <451301>Romans 13:1;

but the ministry of the word is become our great employment; the public

temples of God, “where his honor dwelleth,” are our places of public

resort; the visitation of the sick and the poor, and all the other works of

piety and charity, our subordinate tasks; and prayer and praise our

recreation and pleasure.

2 . All things then should be holy in a minister of the gospel, and separated

from common use. His tongue should only discourse of God: useless

conversations at least, however harmless in themselves, defile his tongue;

as, under the law, a holy vessel would have been defiled by common

meats. His eyes have entered into covenant not to behold vanity; or if they

do, they lose, without genuine repentance, the right of entering into the

interior of the tabernacle, to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus

Christ. In short, the whole person of a minister of Christ should be a living

example of true religion, which ought always to be surrounded with

decency, gravity, and respect.

3 . This, then, is the first point — to watch against the desire of worldly

things: for the cares, the solicitudes, the employments of the world, when

you enter into them, will rob you of your unction, however your natural or

improved talents may remain; and will not only profane, but in time entirely

destroy all the genuine virtue of your vocation, and bring you thoroughly

under the yoke of the world. The vessels and ornaments which were used

in the temple under the law were never appropriated to common use; it

would have been a crime which would have defiled their consecration: now

a minister of the gospel, consecrated to God by his own blessed Spirit, in a

manner infinitely more holy than that of the sacred vessels and ornaments

under the law, defiles and profanes abundantly more his consecration, if he

makes his person, his talents, his spirit, his heart, to serve to dead works

and the common employments of the world. O thou holy doctrine of the

cross, how little art thou known by those ministers who enter into the

affairs, agitations, and commotions of this miserable world! The apostle has

warned them in vain, that

“no man who warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this

life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier,”

<550204>2 Timothy 2:4.

Alas! these become principal actors on the stage of the world. The

dispensers of the truths and blessings of Heaven become the ministers of

carnal views and projects: those whom God has charged with the eternal

interests of the people, neglect them, and make it their glory to spend their

strength in carrying on worldly affairs.

2. WE MUST WATCH AGAINST THE LIGHT AND

TRIFLING SPIRIT OF THE WORLD, BECAUSE THE SPIRIT

OF OUR MINISTRY IS A SPIRIT OF PRAYER AND

INTERCESSION.

Although it is the privilege of a faithful minister to have a river of peace

continually flowing in his soul, yet, paradoxical as it may appear, his life, at

the same time, is a life of prayer, lamentation, and complaint. The Prophet

Isaiah, on a prophetic view of the great millennium, “when all flesh should

come to worship before the Lord,” cried out,

“Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her;

rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her,”

<236610>Isaiah 66:10, 23.

When we see so large a part of the inhabitants of the globe lying in the

wicked one, covered with heathen or Mohammedan darkness; — or, what

is still worse, when we see infidelity reigning in the midst of the blaze of

gospel day, it is impossible, if we breathe the true spirit of the gospel

ministry, but we shall be daily, yea, habitually praying between the porch

and the altar, with groanings which cannot be uttered. <290217>Joel 2:17;

<450826>Romans 8:26. Jesus Christ, the prince and model of ministers, wept over

Jerusalem, when he saw her hardened in her blindness. Yes, my brethren,

as long as Satan reigns upon earth, the true ministers of God will more or

less mourn and lament. As long as the children of Israel, on the plain,

employ themselves in dances and revels, forget the God of their fathers,

and madly prostitute their homage to the golden calf, the true Moseses on

the mountains will tear their garments — will break their hearts before the

Lord. “The world will rejoice,” says Christ to his apostles: its children will

run on dancing and sending forth cries of joy, till they precipitate

themselves into the abyss. Let their laughter and their sports be their

portion: let that holy sorrow which is consistent with constant joy in the

Holy Ghost be ours. The world, in the midst of which we live, will be

continually to us a spectacle of grief and concern; and even when they

persecute us not, though crosses and gibbets do not attend us, their entire

depravation will itself alone be an unexhausted source of lamentation before

God.

3. WE MUST WATCH AGAINST INDOLENCE, BECAUSE

THE SPIRIT OF OUR MINISTRY IS A SPIRIT OF TOIL.

1. We fill a laborious office. The church of Christ upon earth is a vineyard,

a field, a harvest, a building which should be daily rising and growing to

perfection, and a holy warfare — all terms which announce cares and

fatigues; all symbols of labor and application.

2. This the time of a minister of the gospel is due to the church: all the days

and moments which he employs in the commerce of the world, in

dissipation, or in the vanities of worldly society, except where occasional

duties call him, are days and moments which were due to the salvation of

his fellow-creatures, and of which those souls which suffer through his

neglect will demand a strict account at the tribunal of Jesus Christ. By the

divine unction he has received, and by his devotion of himself to the

ministry — the church of Christ has acquired, a peculiar property in his

person, his leisure, his occupations, and his talents. These are all now

consecrated things, which form part of the property of the church of God.

He is only the depositary of them, and has no right to dispose of them at his

pleasure: he is responsible for them to God and his church. It is not for

himself that he has been numbered among the ministers of Christ, but for

the church, that he may bear his part in her toils and ministry. He degrades

the title she has given him when he abandons the labors she has appointed

for him: he ceases to be a minister, from the moment he ceases to be a

laborer: he spends in worldly commerce and frivolous occupations that time

on which rolls the salvation of the souls among whom he should have toiled

— that time on which depends the eternal destiny of his brethren — that

time to which God has attached the salvation of sinners, the strengthening

of the weak, and the perfecting of the strong. “May the Spirit of the Holy

One increase our zeal!”

4. WE MUST WATCH AGAINST THE BETRAYING OF OUR

TRUST — AGAINST UNFAITHFULNESS, BECAUSE THE

SPIRIT OF OUR MINISTRY IS A SPIRIT OF FIRMNESS

AND FIDELITY.

1. We are appointed to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, in season and out of

season, with all longsuffering and doctrine.” The public vices should

always find us inflexible, inexorable. The countenance of a minister of

Christ should never blush at the reproaches which never fail to accompany

the liberty and faithful execution of his office. He bears written on his

forehead, with much more true majesty than the high priest of the law,

HOLINESS TO THE LORD, <022836>Exodus 28:36. The divine unction which the

Spirit of God has bestowed upon him for the ministry of the gospel is a

grace of strength and courage it inspires the soul marked by this divine zeal

with an heroic disposition, which raises it above its own natural weakness;

which puts into it noble, great, and generous sentiments, worthy of the

dignity of its ministry; and gives it an elevation of mind which raises it

above the fears, the hopes, — the reputation, — the reproaches, and every

thing else, which rule over and regulate the conduct of the generality of

men: yea, which bestows upon us that ministerial vigor and apostolic fire

which so gloriously manifested themselves in the founders and first heroes

of our divine religion.

2. Now this spirit of firmness and fidelity is precisely the character the

most opposed to the spirit of the world. For the spirit of the world is

continually shown in a commerce of attentions, complaisance, art, and

management: it seems to have hardly an opinion of its own: it can overlook,

if not applaud, an improper sentiment covered with art and delicacy: it can

bend, yea, accustom its ears to the witty, but cruel touches of smooth

malevolence; and can suffer, without reproof, rebuke, or exhortation, the

preference which is daily given to the gifts of nature over those of grace. In

short, the minister (so called) who will live in the bustle of the world, must

think, or at least speak, as the world does: he must not discover the firm

and serious spirit of a minister of God: if he did, he would soon become its

butt and its laugh; and all his worldly plans would be entirely defeated. No:

we, who should be the salt of the earth, would in such case be obliged to

lend ourselves, to accommodate ourselves, and to putrefy with the children

of this earth. We who are called to be the censors of the world, would soon

become in some sense its panegyrist: we, who should be the lights of the

world, would by our open suffrage, or by our base, dastardly silence,

perpetuate its blindness: in short, we, who should be instrumentally the

resource and salvation of the world, would miserably perish with it.

3. Nothing, my brethren, so softens the firmness and fidelity of the

ministerial spirit as the busy commerce of the world. We enter by little, and

imperceptibly, into its prejudices, its excuses, and all its vain reasonings.

The more we meddle with it, the less we find it culpable. We can at last

even plead for its softness, its idleness, its luxury, and its ambition. We

begin, like the world, to give soft names to all these passions and

indulgences; and that which confirms us in this new system of conduct is,

that we have the universal plaudit of worldly men; for they will give to our

baseness and cowardice the specious names of moderation, elevation of

spirit, and a talent for making virtue amiable; while they give to the contrary

conduct the odious names of littleness, rusticity, excess, and hardness of

heart, only fit to withdraw men from goodness, and render piety hateful or

contemptible. Thus we treat obligingly a world which gives to our baseness

and unfaithfulness all the honors due to prudence; and we believe it not to

be so guilty as is commonly imagined among believers, from the time we

love its esteem. For, alas! my brethren, there are too few of the Sauls and

Barnabases who would not relax from the truth, though they thereby caused

themselves to be stoned even by those people who, a few moments before,

would have offered incense to them as gods just descended from heaven!

4. The spirit of ministerial firmness and fidelity is therefore absolutely

incompatible with the busy commerce of the world: you will no more find

any thing there to reprove, in proportion as you familiarize yourselves with

those things which are reprehensible in it: you will lose the views of those

great rules of conduct which have governed the faithful ministers of God in

all the ages of the church: you will no longer cultivate those seeds of divine

science which, through grace, have helped to make you useful in the Lord’s

vineyard: the Scriptures, and the writings of the best divines, will became

strange and tiresome: you will soon have lost your taste for them; and you

will prefer to those serious studies, so conformable to your ministerial

duties, books which, to you, should be comparatively vain and frivolous;

but which render you more serviceable and agreeable to the world to which

you have delivered up yourself. These observations lead me to a fifth

reflection on this head; namely, that,

5. WE SHOULD WATCH AGAINST A NEGLECT

AND DISTASTE OF STUDY, BECAUSE THE SPIRIT

OF OUR MINISTRY IS A SPIRIT OF DIVINE SCIENCE.

1. The lips of a minister of the gospel are the public depositories of the

doctrines of divine truth: we are required, like the prophet, to devour the

book which contains the law and the gospel, notwithstanding all the

bitterness which may accompany our studies and watchings: we must

nourish our souls with the bread of the word of God, as it were by the

sweat of our brow; and adorn our souls internally with the divine law, as

the Jewish priests adorned themselves eternally with their sacred garments.

The divine writings are the basis and substance of our gospel ministry,

which we may compare to the two great lights which God has set in the

firmament: like them, we should rule over the day and the night; over the

day, in guiding the faith and piety of believers; and over the night, in

clearing our minds from all darkness of error, and filling them with spiritual

light. We are the chief interpreters of the divine law and gospel, the guides

of the people, the seers and prophets appointed by Christ to clear their

doubts, and from the divine word to discover to them the whole will of

God.

2. But can these titles be supported in the hurry of worldly commerce?

Alas! nothing is so fatal as that to a taste for study and retirement. I am not

now speaking of profound studies, of sounding all the depths of antiquity

for the elucidation of the doctrines and discipline of Christianity, or of

furnishing the church of God with new and useful publications: these are

not the things which the spirit of your vocation exacts from you: these are

studies and talents manifested in an eminent degree by only a small number

of the wisest ministers whom God has raised up to be general lights of their

age. But I say that for those common, ordinary studies, which are

indispensably necessary to qualify a minister to “divide the word of truth

aright, and to give to each their portion of meat in due season;” in short, to

be in a situation to exercise his functions with light and success: I say that

for these studies he must have a spirit accustomed to think, to meditate, and

to be with and in himself; he must fly from that commerce with the world

which soon annexes to his books a weariness which is insupportable; he

must have a desire of increasing in divine knowledge; a character of mind

which is an enemy to frivolous employments; a habit of retirement and

reflection; an arrangement of life, whereby he can give an account to

himself of his progress, and whereby the moments set apart for the different

duties of his situation will always find them selves in their own place, and

conformable to their destination; in a word, a kind of uniform, occupied,

regulated life, which can in nowise have the least alliance with the perpetual

variations and derangements of a worldly life and conversation.

6. I SHALL FINISH THIS HEAD WITH ONE REFLECTION

MORE; NAMELY, THAT WE SHOULD WATCH AGAINST

THE LEAST ALIENATION OF OUR MINDS FROM GOD,

BECAUSE THE SPIRIT OF OUR MINISTRY IS A SPIRIT OF

PIETY.

1. By this spirit of piety, I understand not only blamelessness of morals,

but that candor of conscience, that tenderness of religion, that taste of God,

that delicacy of soul, which the appearance alone of evil alarms. Behold that

spirit of piety, which is the soul and safeguard of our ministry!

2. We live, as it were, in a continual commerce with holy things. But what

a life of prayer, of retirement, of circumspection, of faith, and of rigorous

attention to the senses, ought we not to lead, that we may be always

prepared for our holy duties! All the dispositions, desires, and affections of

our hearts, should be purified, sanctified, consecrated by the unction of the

Holy Spirit, residing within us. How can we appear before the

congregation of the Lord, in their name to raise ourselves up to the footstool

of the eternal throne, there to humble ourselves with the dominions and

powers of heaven into a sort of self-annihilation, there to sing praises with

them to the majesty of God, when just before we were drawn a hundred

different ways through the dirt of the world? How can we in such case

ascend the pulpit, and manifest to the people all the seriousness and grief of

true zeal? With what grace can we speak of a death to the world, of

avoiding the dangers to which it exposes us, and the snares which Satan

there lays in our way, of the necessity of prayer, retirement, and

watchfulness, of the eye which should be plucked out, of the hand and foot

which should be cut off; <401808>Matthew 18:8, 9, of the account we must render

even for every idle word, <401236>Matthew 12:36, and in short of all those

crucifying maxims so unknown to the world, and so contrary to its

manners? To be good preachers of Jesus Christ, and of him crucified, we

must ourselves be fastened to the cross of Jesus Christ: to inspire a taste of

God, and the things of heaven, we must feel them ourselves: to touch the

hearts of the people, our own hearts must be touched with the living coal.

3. I grant, as observed in my former discourse, that our itinerant plan

keeps us at a considerable distance from the world in general. But among

the families which we visit, are there not, in most of them, some who do

not make even a profession of religion? How cautious should we then be

that we do not enter into their spirit, thereby hardening them against the

truth, and injuring the minds of those who are truly religious! And of our

own people, alas! all are not Israel who are of Israel. To such, instead of

indulging them in their vain conversation, how closely, how faithfully

should we speak, as being peculiarly responsible for their souls! If in a

family there be any mourners in Zion, how dangerous, how dreadful would

it be for such to hear any thing trifling from the lips of him to whom they

are looking for a word of comfort! No time can be lost in laboring to bring

such to Christ. All reading and study should be laid aside, while the

opportunity is afforded us of leading to the Savior’s blood an immortal soul

under the convincing operations of the Holy Spirit. Such occasions should

be peculiarly prized — occasions of fixing jewels of the highest value in our

crown of glory, for

“they that turn many to righteousness shall shine

as the stars for ever and ever,” <271203>Daniel 12:3.

Again, when we meet with souls which enjoy the love of God, how careful

should we be to feed them with spiritual food, — how careful to say

nothing which might injure the tender spiritual life within them, or grieve

that holy Comforter who has thus far brought them on their way to heaven!

But, especially, when we meet with those who have drunk deep of the

waters of life, and live in close fellowship with God, then we should

improve the precious moments for the welfare of our own souls; and from

their spiritual observations learn more to enlarge in our public addresses on

the most important of all subjects, Christian experience. Here is a field of

action! Here are opportunities for doing good! What mighty privileges do

we enjoy as traveling preachers! “May the Lord enable us to improve them

to the uttermost, for his glory and the salvation of millions!”

4. But I must here observe, once for all, that these discourses are

addressed only to ministers of the gospel. The private members of the

church of Christ have a different calling; and if they improve the means

which the Lord affords them, he will preserve them in the midst of all their

business; and use many of them in their respective stations in his church for

the advancement of his kingdom upon earth. One grand truth which I have

been laboring to establish is this, — that when any receive a full call to the

ministry, it is their duty to sacrifice every secular employment to it; and if

not, that divine unction which they received for their office — that peculiar

apostolic spirit which, according to their measure, was bestowed upon

them, and which none can comprehend but those who possess it, will soon

be extinguished; and they themselves will incur the guilt of unfaithfulness to

the vocation of God, in the high office to which he has called them, or in

which he has been pleased to station them.

PART 2

I now proceed to consider the next grand particular in the apostle’s charge

to Timothy: “Endure afflictions.”

1. We have reason to bless God that we are not called to suffer like the

faithful ministers of Christ in former ages. A spirit of civil and religious

liberty has accompanied even the spirit of infidelity; whereby the enemies of

revelation have, in a considerable degree, disarmed and incapacitated

themselves from injuring the church of God: and the earth has been made in

a wonderful manner to help the woman. <661216>Revelation 12:16. We have

succeeded to the ministry of that noble army of martyrs, who suffered “for

the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,” <662004>Revelation 20:4; and we

are sent forth like them as “sheep in the midst of wolves,” <401016>Matthew

10:16. No thanks are due to our opponents, if we be not persecuted like our

predecessors. If we had reason, like the martyrs of old, to fear the barbarity

of the enemies of our religion — if the most cruel torments were the only

recompense we could promise ourselves in this life for all our zeal and

labors, we also should be brought to the alternative of renouncing Jesus

Christ, and the sacred ministry with which he has honored us, or to face

these dangers with holy joy. But, on the contrary, what in comparison have

we to suffer? Only the insults occasionally of the vilest of the people, which

will not touch even the skirts of our clothes, if we suffer them not to affect

our hearts; and those crosses which are indispensably necessary to keep us

at the feet of Jesus Christ, and to render us fit instruments for His service

who will not give his glory to another.

2. If we will be disciples, much more ministers of Christ, we must daily

take up his cross. Without this, he refuses to acknowledge us as his

disciples, or to make us partakers of that glory into which he entered not

himself but by the way of the cross.

“Whosoever doth not bear his cross, says Christ,

“and come after me, cannot be my disciple,” <421427>Luke 14:27.

“If [we be] children,” says St. Paul, “then heirs; heirs of God, and

joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may

be also glorified together,” <450817>Romans 8:17.

1 . But, perhaps, you will say,” I am too weak to endure afflictions.” Alas!

it is because we are weak; because the least disappointment in our favorite

pursuit makes us revolt against the will of Providence; because

contradiction raises our anger, or commendation and success our vanity and

pride, that the Lord sees it necessary we should pass through tribulation and

trials.

2. In short, what is it to be weak in the present sense of the word? It is to

love ourselves excessively: it is to live more by nature than by faith: it is to

suffer ourselves to be conducted by the vivacity of our own natural

inclinations, and not by the wisdom from above. Now, with this excessive

fund of self-love, if the Lord were not to manage our weakness, and to

humble us by affliction; if he did not strike our bodies with some habitual

languor, to render the world insipid to us; if he did not prepare for us some

losses in our substance; if he did not defeat some of our most favorite

projects; if he did not place us in such situations, that the most trying and

yet unavoidable duties should fill up our happiest hours; if he were not to

raise up a against us opposition by false brethren or by true brethren in a

word, if he were not to fix between us and our weakness some kind of

barrier, which might be strong enough to arrest and retain us, we should

soon be deceived by our false peace and prosperity; we should soon be

without a bridle for ourselves or our desires. The same weakness and selflove

which make us so sensible of trials and afflictions would make us still

more sensible of; and less prepared for, the dangers of pleasure and

prosperity.

3. If; therefore, we be discouraged under trials and afflictions, let us not

endeavor to excuse ourselves, by saying we are weak. The weakness of our

hearts arises only from the weakness of our faith; the soul of a Christian

should be a strong soul, proof against persecutions, reproaches, infirmities,

and death itself. The Christian may be oppressed, but he cannot be

subdued; you may snatch from him his goods, his reputation, his whole

fortune, yea, his life itself; but you cannot rob him of the treasure of faith

and grace which lies at the bottom of his heart; and abundantly compensates

for all his frivolous and temporary losses: you may, perhaps, make him

shed tears of sensibility and sorrow, for religion does not extinguish the

feelings of nature; but his heart in an instant resists, disavows, as it were,

his weakness, and turns even his tears into tears of piety. What shall I say?

A Christian rejoices even in tribulations; he regards them as marks of the

benevolence and watchful providence of him God, as precious sureties of

future promises, and as the happy characters of his resemblance of Jesus

Christ.

4. All the precepts of the gospel require strength from above; and if we

have not sufficient to support the crosses which the Lord is pleased to lay

upon us, we have not sufficient for those other duties which the gospel

prescribes. It requires strength of grace to pardon an injury; to speak all the

good we can of those who calumniate us; or to hide the defects of those

who would destroy our reputation or usefulness. It requires strength of

grace to fly from a world which allures us; to snatch ourselves from

pleasures, or to oppose inclinations, which would draw us into evil; to

resist customs to which the usage of the world has given the authority of

laws or to use prosperity in a Christian spirit. It requires strength of grace to

conquer ourselves; to repress the rising desire; to stifle the pleasing

sentiments; continually to recall to the strict rules of the gospel a heart which

is so given to wander. In short, were we to review all the precepts of the

gospel, there would not be one which does not suppose a strong and

generous soul, fortified by grace. Throughout it is necessary that we do

violence to ourselves. The kingdom of God is a field, which must be

cleared and rooted up; a vineyard, in which we must bear the heat and

burden of the day; a career, in which we must perpetually and valiantly fight

the battles of the Lord. In a word, the whole life of a true disciple of Jesus

Christ bears the character of the cross; and if we lose for an instant this

strength of grace, we fall. To say then that you cannot endure afflictions

because you are weak, is to say that you are destitute of the spirit of the

gospel.

5. But, besides this, my brethren, however weak we may really be, we

should have a confidence in the goodness of our God, that he will never

prove, afflict, or try us beyond our strength; that he always proportions the

afflictions to our weakness; that he gives his chastisements, as he does his

judgments, in weight and measure; that in afflicting he wills not to destroy

us, but to purify and save us, and qualify us for greater usefulness in his

church; that he who aids us, himself bears the crosses which he himself

imposes upon us; that he chastises us as a father, and not as a judge; that the

same hand which strikes us, supports us; that the same rod which gives the

wound, brings the oil and the honey to soften it. He knows the character of

our hearts, and how far our weakness goes; and, as in afflicting us his will

in Christ Jesus is our sanctification, <520403>1 Thessalonians 4:3, he knows how

far to weigh his hand, and lay the burden upon us.

6. Alas! What other design can our gracious Lord have in afflicting his

ministers and disciples? Is he a cruel God, who takes pleasure in the

sufferings of his servants? Is he a barbarous tyrant, who finds his grandeur

and safety only in the tears and blood of the subjects who adore him? It is

then for our benefit alone that he punishes and chastises us; his tenderness

suffers, if I may so speak, from our woes; and yet his love is so just and

wise, that he still leaves us to suffer, because he foresees that by

terminating our afflictions he would in the end increase our misery, and

prevent our usefulness and glory. He is like a skillful surgeon, who has

pity indeed on the cries and sufferings of his patient, and yet cuts to the

quick all that he finds corrupted in the wound; he is never more kind or

beneficent to his servants than when he appears to be most severe; and it is

indubitably evident that afflictions are necessary and useful to us, since a

God so good and so kind can resolve to lay them upon us. We read in the

histories of the martyrs, how weak girls could set at defiance all the

barbarity of tyrants! how children, before they were able to support the

labors of life, could run with joy to meet the rigors of the most dreadful

deaths! how old men, sinking already under the weight of their bodies,

seemed, by their cries of triumph, to feel their youth renewed like that of an

eagle, in the midst of the torments of slow martyrdoms! And are you weak,

my brethren? Then that weakness itself if you be faithful to the grace of

God, will bring glory to the faith and religion of Jesus Christ. It is on that

account that the Lord has chosen you, to make known in you and by you

how much stronger grace is than nature. He

“hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise;

and hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things

which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which

are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to

bring to naught the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his

presence,” <460127>1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

7. If you were born with any spiritual strength, you would do no honor to the

power of grace; that patience which is now the pure gift of God, would then

be justly attributed to man. Thus, in a sense, the weaker we are, the fitter

instruments we become for the designs and glory of God. He delights to

choose the feeble for his greatest purposes, that man may attribute nothing

to himself; and that the vain constancy of the wise and the philosophers may

be confounded by their example. His first disciples were but feeble lambs

when he sent them into the world, and exposed them in the midst of

wolves. These are the earthen vessels which the Lord is pleased to break,

like those of Gideon, that in them the light and power of faith might shine

with greater splendor and magnificence. And if you enter into the designs of

his mercy and wisdom, your weakness, which in your eyes justifies your

murmurs or unfaithfulness, would prove one of the sweetest consolations

of your trials.

8. “Lord,” you would say to him all your days, “I ask not that proud

reason or philosophy, which seeks all the consolations of its pains in the

glory of suffering with constancy. I ask not that insensibility of heart which

either feels not its miseries, or despises them. Give me, Lord, that sweet

simplicity, that tender sensible heart, which appears so little fit to support its

tribulations and trials: only increase thy comforts and thy graces. Then, the

weaker I appear in the eyes of men, the greater wilt thou appear in my

weakness; and the more will the children of this world admire the power of

faith, which alone can raise the feeblest and most timid souls to that point of

constancy and firmness which philosophy has never been able to attain.”

“Endure,” therefore, “afflictions.”

II. 1. Nothing is more common, than for ministers and private professors

to justify their murmurs or unfaithfulness, by the character or peculiarity of

the afflictions themselves. We easily persuade ourselves that we could bear

crosses of another nature with resignation; but those which the Lord has

laid upon us are of such a character as can yield no consolation; that the

more we examine what passes among men, the more singular we find our

trials or afflictions to be, and our situation almost without example.

2. But to remove this feeble defense — of self-love, so unworthy of

genuine faith, I would answer, That the more extraordinary our trials or

afflictions are, the more clearly may we discover the hand of Providence in

them; the more evidently may we observe the secret designs of a God ever

attentive to our interests; the more may we presume, that under such new

events he conceals new views and singular designs of mercy, for the

welfare of our souls, and for our future usefulness in his church.

3. Now, what is the most powerful consolation under trials and afflictions?

“God sees me.” He counts my sighs; he weighs my afflictions; “he puts my

tears in his bottle;” he blesses the whole to my present sanctification and

usefulness in his church, and to my eternal happiness. Since I have felt his

heavy hand upon me, in so singular a manner that there seemed to be no

resource remaining here below, I feel myself more than ever under his

immediate inspection. O! if I had enjoyed a more tranquil situation, his eyes

would not have been upon me as they are at present; perhaps I should have

been forgotten, and confounded among those who have their portion in this

world. Lovely sufferings! which, in depriving me of all human succor,

restore to me my God, and make him my refuge and resource through his

blessing. Precious afflictions! which, in making me forget the creatures,

have rendered me, through the co-operation of rich and suffering grace, a

continual object of the remembrance and mercies of my Lord!

4. But is there any one among us who wishes that he may not be called to

endure afflictions? Alas! take care that the Lord does not hear thee in his

wrath: take care that he does not punish thee in granting thee thy desire; that

he does not find thee unworthy of his temporal afflictions; for

“whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,

and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” <581206>Hebrews 12:6.

5. To all these truths, so consoling to an afflicted soul, I could still add, my

brethren, that if our pains and trials appear excessive, it is only through the

excess of corruption in our affections, which gives strength to our

sufferings: our losses or afflictions become so grievous to us, only through

those attachments which bind us to external objects; and the excess of our

sorrows or chagrin is always the excess of an unjust love of the creatures.

Alas, brethren, the woes and afflictions of others are too often nothing in

our eyes. We do not observe that the trials of thousands around us are

greater than our own; that our afflictions have innumerable resources,

which theirs have not; that in our habitual infirmities, or in our trials in the

church, we find in the number of persons who are still attentive to our

wants, an abundance of comforts denied to others — when we have lost a

warm and faithful friend, we have many ways to soften our bitterness:

when persecuted by our relations or families, we can find in the tenderness

an confidence of our friends and brethren, attentions and kindness which

we found not at home. In short, we have an abundance of human sources

of satisfaction, to compensate for our trials; and if we put into the scale, on

one side our comfort, and on the other our afflictions, we shall find that our

comforts, if improved, far overbalance our sorrows,

BESIDE THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

6. Truly, my brethren, it is not only the excessive love of ourselves, but

hardness of heart toward our fellow creatures, which magnifies in our eyes

our own afflictions. Let us daily enter under the unfurnished and miserable

roofs of the poor, where shame frequently conceals miseries the most

frightful and affecting: let us go to those asylums of wretchedness, where

calamities seem to be heaped together: it is there we shall learn what we

ought to think of our own afflictions: it is there that touched with the excess

of so many and great miseries, we shall blush to have given names to the

lightness of our own: it is there that our murmurs an unfaithful attentions

will change into expressions, and into the very spirit of gratitude and

thankfulness: and, less occupied with the thoughts of those light crosses

which we bear, than with the many from which we have been delivered, we

shall almost begin to fear the indulgence of our God, so far from

complaining of his severity. Endure,” therefore, “afflictions.”

III. 1. I will conclude this head of the apostle’s charge with the following

important reflection: That God, in all the trials and afflictions which he lays

upon, or suffers to happen to, his zealous ministering servants, has but two

ends in his view and in his gracious intention; first, their sanctification and

eternal happiness; secondly, their usefulness in his church. Every thing he

permits or does for them here below, he does it, or permits it, only to

facilitate these gracious designs: every agreeable or afflictive event which

any way concerns them, he has prepared for them, to make them more

holy, useful, and eternally glorious. All his plans concerning them have

reference to these purposes alone: all that they are in the order of nature,

their birth, their talents, the age in which they live, their friends, and their

vocation — all these, in his views of mercy toward them, and mercy toward

the world, have entered into his divine impenetrable designs for the eternal

salvation of themselves and others; and not all the powers of earth and hell,

no, NONE BUT THEMSELVES, can possibly defeat or counteract them. All this

visible world itself was only made for the world which is to come: all that

passes here has its secret connection with eternity: all that which we see is

only the figure of things invisible. This world would not be worthy of the

care of an infinitely wise and merciful God, but as far as, by secret and

wonderful connections, its various revolutions tend to form that church in

the heavens, that immortal assembly of the redeemed, where he will be

eternally glorified: he acts not in time but for eternity; and he is in this the

great model which we should in ever thing follow.

2. “Ah! When shall it be, O our God, that our souls, raised by faith above

all the creatures, shall no more adore but thee in and through them all; shall

no more attribute to them events, of which thou alone, in thy immediate or

permissive providence, art the author; shall acknowledge in all the various

situations in which thou hast placed us the adorable conduct and wisdom of

thy providence; and in the midst of crosses themselves shall taste that

unutterable peace which the world and all its pleasure can never bestow!”

3. Religion alone, my brethren, can afford us solid comfort under all our

trials and afflictions. Philosophy may stop our complaints, but can never

truly soften our grief. The world may stupefy our anxiety, but can never

heal it; and in the midst of all its employments or amusements, the secret

sting of sorrow will remain always deeply plunged in the bottom of the

heart. God alone can prove the effectual comforter of all our pains; and is

there need of any other for the faithful soul? Weak mortals, by their vain

discourse and ordinary language of tenderness and compassion, may speak

to the ears of the body; but it is the God of all consolation who alone knows

how to speak to the heart.

4. It would perhaps be presumption in me to call any afflictions heavy

which I have experienced; and it was probably owing to my want of grace,

that they to me appeared to be great. But I can bless God that ever I was

tried and afflicted; and hardly know for which to thank him most, his

disguised or undisguised mercies. O how he has broken my stubborn will,

and humbled my proud heart, and moderated my ambitious views, (though

all seemed to be for his glory,) by trials and afflictions! And I doubt not but

many of my brethren, as well as myself, (though not in the same degree

with me, because they did not equally need it,) can bear testimony to the

grace and power of God in the use of this profitable. means. Let us, then,

my brethren,

“endure afflictions:” let us “take unto us the whole armour of God,

that we may be able to withstand in the evil day;

and having done all, to stand,” <490613>Ephesians 6:13.

5. “O God, it is thou alone who canst support us under all our trials: we are

weakness itself without thee. It is thy grace alone which can sanctify the

means, and make our afflictions profitable. Lord, teach us to depend wholly

upon thee: it is with thee alone we desire to forget all our trials, all our

pains, all the creatures. But, alas! too often have we wished that the foolish

projects of our own hearts should serve as the rule of thine infinite wisdom!

We have wandered, and been lost in our thoughts: our imaginations have

formed a thousand flattering dreams; our hearts have run after phantoms.

We have desired more favor from men, more health of body, more talents,

more glory, as if we had been wiser and better acquainted with our true

interests than thou, O omniscient Lord God! We have not entered, as we

might, into the gracious designs of thy love in our favor. But O! from this

time thou shalt be our only comforter; and we will seek, in the meditation of

thy holy law, those solid and lasting consolations which the creatures can

never afford. Lord, take us into thyself; be thou the joy of our hearts, be

thou the delight of our eyes, be thou our portion for ever! Even so, Lord

Jesus. Amen.”

 

Duties of a Minister

Many years ago we felt that God wanted us to work with pastors, church leaders and missionaries. To this end we not only pursued further education but started www.dakotascba.com and this one to provide information to help that group of leaders grow in Christ and their faith.

While we cannot judge these people, we are left wondering why some of them are in the ministry at all as their performance of their duties and treatment of the people in their charge is less than godly.  To this end we publish this series on THE DUTIES OF A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL BY THOMAS COKE, LL. D. (Ages Software Electronic edition) .

All the information related in that little book may not apply to each minister, church leader or missionary but we are confident that much of what is written will help those who serve God in these positions and bring them back to the correct perspective of their office and how they are to go about fulfilling their calling.

But before we get to the first discourse on the duties of a minister of the gospel, we have a few words we would like to say. First, we would like to take you to 1 Kings 2 and provide the words of King David to his son as words to govern the pastors, church leaders and missionaries as they go about their duties:

1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. 2 I am about to go the way of all the earth, he said. so be strong, show yourself a man, 3 and observe  what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, (NIV)

These words are timeless and not for just Solomon’s ears. If they were they would not have been recorded in the Bible. They are wise words for all those called to a leadership position in the church. Of course, those who hear these words must make sure that they are truly know and are walking in his ways, that they are not listening to subjective opinion or their own personal ideas and that they are not letting denominational doctrines color the ways and knowledge of God.

Second, in conjunction with this series we will be posting up some excerpts from E.M. Bounds on our www.dakotascba.com  as prayer is vital for church leaders and not just the dutiful prayers done at prayer meetings and gatherings of church men and so on; but prayers of a humble man who yearn to do their duty correctly and want to truly please God in their stewardship of his people.

There are probably a great many books out there on prayer and how to pray but prayer needs to come from the heart, from purity and a longing to see God win and develop as many people as possible. Prayer is not to be the abdicating of responsibility and passing the buck to God and hope that he sends a miracle instead of using humans to do his will.

Too often church leaders forget that God has chosen to use humans and they walk away from a situation that God has brought to them or they find alternative solutions than just getting involved and showing that God cares.

People will not see that God cares about them unless his people actually get involved and obey God’s instructions. Why did God choose to use humans? One, If he sent a miracle each and every time someone needs him, it is too easy to credit the wrong source and people will not be saved but go after the alternative. Two, the people receiving the miracle will see how God’s people just sit on the sidelines and did nothing bringing further disrepute to the people of God.

Those are but two of the many reasons why God chose people. The main idea is that God made it the best way to communicate his love and caring to his creation.

Third, the prayer on every pastor’s, church leader’s and missionary’s heart should be similar to the prayer that Solomon made when he was made king of Israel. We quote 1 Kings 3:

5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared  to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, Ask  for whatever you want me to give you.6 Solomon answered, You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful a  to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 7 Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen,  a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning  heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours. 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.

Being a church leader is not an easy duty to fulfill and great humbleness is required and the realization that one cannot perform their duties to their fullest without divine wisdom, discernment and understanding.

Church leaders cannot rely upon their own understanding cultural practices or even secular thought that may be considered wise. They need to walk with God as David spoke and bring his words to the people so that the people know what is required of them and which is the correct way to go

Christianity is a top down faith and although at times God may raise up common believers to positions of wisdom, etc., it is the leadership that usually sets the godly example. The leadership guides the people and if the leadership doesn’t get it right then few in the congregation will as well. God provided leadership and leaders for his people for a reason. They are not for ego trips or promotion s of superiority but positions to be filled by those who know how to lead God’s way and by people who listen to King David’s admonition to his son.

Good leaders make all the difference. So enjoy the following series and glean from those pages what you can and grow in knowledge of Jesus and your faith.

DISCOURSE 1

“I charge thee, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ,

who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his

kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season;

reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the

time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after

their own lusts shall the heap to themselves teachers, having itching

ears; and they shall turn ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto

fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work

of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry,”

<550401>2 Timothy 4:1-5.

PART 1

1 . The ministerial office is the most important to the human race of any

which is exercised on earth for, according to the order of the dispensation

of grace, the preaching of the gospel is indispensably necessary to raise

mankind out of the ruins of their fall, to deliver them from all the miseries

which spring from an everlasting banishment from God, and to bring them

to the eternal enjoyment of Him, the Sovereign Good, at whose right hand

are pleasures for evermore.

The ministers of the gospel are particularly charged with these high interests

of mankind: they are like those angels whom Jacob beheld on the sacred

ladder, ascending and descending to and from heaven: they are the mouth of

the congregation at the throne of God, and open the bosom of His mercies

upon the miseries of man. They officially speak in the name of Christ,

whom the Father always hears.

2 . In a word, my brethren, a faithful ministry is the greatest blessing God

can bestow upon a people: it is the greatest he ever did bestow, except the

gifts of his Son and of his Spirit. What were the peculiar blessings which

the Lord promised by his prophets to the Israelites, if they would turn to

him, and obey his laws? Were they not the conquest of nations the entire

destruction of their enemies, the final period of all the miseries and

calamities which afflicted them, and a country which flowed with milk and

honey for their own habitation? These were the magnificent promises he

made them; and yet they prevailed not upon them to yield obedience to the

divine law, nor restrained them from prostituting their homage to the gods

of the heathen. He then ceased to press upon them these promises, which

were so flattering, and so likely to operate on the minds of a people who in

general were influenced by worldly motives; but it was to make them one

promise more which was a thousand times greater and more precious than

all the rest:

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord, and I will give you

pastors accord in to mine heart, which shall feed you with

knowledge and understanding,” <240314>Jeremiah 3:14, 15.

3 . “Raise then in thy church, O most gracious Lord, a sufficiency of

faithful pastors according to thine heart; and particularly call forth from our

connection chosen vessels to carry the savor of Christ’s name to all people;

and, in separating them for the work of the ministry, separate them also for

the sanctification of those to whom they may be sent. We do not so much

request the end of any trials or calamities which afflict us; we ask not

favorable seasons, abundance, or prosperity; we only request a sufficiency

of holy ministers who will die by thy cause, and with them thou wilt give

us all things else.”

4 . If we thus consider the gospel in the light of the sanctuary, we shall not

be surprised at the awfulness of the charge which the apostle, in my text,

gives to Timothy, his spiritual son: “I charge thee before God,” the

omnipotent Jehovah, who sees and marks every word and action of our

lives, who tries the heart and reins; from whom no covert can screen us, no

darkness hide us; “but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the

light are both alike” to him, <19D912>Psalm 139:12. I charge thee also before “the

Lord Jesus Christ,” your Redeemer, who shed his blood for you, and for

the souls intrusted to your care: before Him whose minister you are, and to

whom you must account for the use or abuse of all your talents: before Him

“who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom:”

before whose awful bar you must stand in the presence of an assembled

universe, when he shall appear on his throne with all the splendor and glory

of the King of kings, to establish the eternal reign of his saints, and to

banish all evil ones, and all evil, from the glory of his power for ever: when

thou, O Timothy, shalt receive the exceeding great reward of thy faithful

ministry, or the greater condemnation which awaits the abuse of the most

precious gifts which can be intrusted to man.

Let us now proceed to the particulars of the apostle’s charge, omitting to

enlarge upon the reasons which he gives in the 3d and 4th verses, as they

primarily respect the people, and would lead us into too large a field of

discourse.

I. 1. First, “Preach the word” — The word of God, which is able to save

the soul. You are not ignorant, my brethren, what multitudes of immortal

beings have been brought by this divine word “from darkness to light, and

from the power of Satan unto God.” In those happy moments when a

whole congregation has been softened by this quickening fire, and the

hearts of the people all opened to receive the word, a single expression has

pierced to the quick, and produced its full effect. hundreds of thousands in

the course of the present revival have been enlightened by it, and have been

undeceived concerning the abuses and pernicious maxims of the world,

which they once thought innocent, because authorized by the common

usage of mankind, or by the preaching of blind guides. Innumerable have

been the profanations and disorders which have been prevented; and

innumerable the precious souls which have been drawn out of the abyss of

misery and sin in which they had so long lain. It is impossible for any but

God to number of the cries of compunction which have arisen from

awakened hearts, or the holy desires inspired into them. Scores of

thousands have been brought to God, and established in grace, who either

have been safely lodged in Abraham’s bosom, or are now living witnesses

of Christ’s power to save. It is impossible to enumerate the graces and

blessings which have been conferred upon the world, and especially from

these kingdoms, by the means of the present revival. Surely it may be said

of every faithful minister, as it was of his Lord, that “he is set for the rising

again of many in Israel,” <420234>Luke 2:34.

2 . The good which one single minister, true to the cause in which he has

engaged, can do in the course of his life by a faithful ministry of the word,

is not easily to be described. How many of the ignorant he may instruct,

how many sleepy consciences arouse, how many daring sinners confound;

how many mourners he may bring into the liberty of the children of God,

how many believers confirm in grace, yea, lead into the enjoyment of

perfect love! Blessed be the Lord, we have had our ministers, who were

formed according to the model of Jesus Christ, according to his simplicity,

his unction, his sacred zeal. We have had our WESLEYS, our FLETCHERS, our

GRIMSHAWS, and our WALSHES. Every thing was borne down by their holy

eloquence, and by the power of the Spirit of God, who spoke through

them. The villages, the towns, the cities, could not resist the impetuosity of

their zeal, and the eminent sanctity of their lives; the tears, the sighs, and the

deep compunction of those who heard them, were the commendations

which accompanied their ministry. The strictness of their manners left

nothing for the world to say against the truths which they delivered. The

simplicity of their spirit, and the gentleness of their conversation and

conduct toward others but severity toward themselves, belied not the gospel

of which they were ministers. Their examples instructed, persuaded, and

struck the people almost as much as their sermons: and the Spirit of God,

who inflamed their hearts, the divine fire with which they themselves were

filled, spread itself through the coldest and most insensible souls; and

enabled them almost everywhere to raise chapels, temples to God, where

the penitents and believers might assemble to hear them, and each return

inflamed like themselves, and filled with the abundance of the Spirit of

God. O what good is one apostolic man capable of working upon earth!

There were no more than twelve employed to begin the conversion of the

world.

3 . Elijah, ascending to heaven, and leaving his spirit of zeal to his disciple

Elisha, was designed as a type of Jesus Christ; who, after he had ascended

to the right hand of the Father, sent down on his disciples that spirit of zeal

and of fire which was the seal of their mission; by which they were to set

on fire and purify the world, and carry to all nations the knowledge of

salvation and the love of truth and righteousness. Scarcely are they thus

filled with the Holy Spirit, but these men, before so timid, so careful to hide

themselves, to withdraw themselves from the fury of the Jews, leave their

retreat like generous lions, know danger no more, bear in their countenance

an intrepidity in the way of duty which sets at defiance all the powers of the

earth, boldly bear their testimony for Christ before the assembly of chief

priests, and depart from the council, rejoicing to be thought worthy to

suffer reproach for Jesus’ holy name.

4 . Judea cannot satisfy the ardor and extent of their zeal. They pass from

city to city, from nation to nation; they spread themselves to the extremities

of the earth; they attack the most ancient and most authorized abuses; they

tear away from the most barbarous people the idols which their ancestors

had at all times adored. They overturn the altars which continual incense

and homage had rendered respectable; they preach up the reproach and

foolishness of the cross to the most polished nations, who piqued

themselves most upon their eloquence, philosophy, and wisdom. The

obstacles which all things present to their zeal, instead of abating it, only

give it new force, and seem everywhere to announce their success: the

whole world conspires against them, and they are stronger than the world:

crosses and gibbets are shown them, to put a stop to their preaching; and

they answer that they cannot but declare what they have seen and heard; and

they publish on the housetops what was confided to them in secret: they

now expire under the axe of the executioner: new torments are invented to

extinguish with their blood the new doctrine which they preach; and their

blood preaches it still more after their death; and the more the earth is

watered with it, the more does she bring forth new disciples to the gospel.

Such was the spirit of the ministry and apostleship which they received, for

these are in some sense but one and the same: every minister of the gospel

is an apostle and ambassador of Jesus Christ among men. O that God

would increase the number of those who are willing to preach and to die for

Jesus Christ! “Preach,” then, “the word.”

II. But I proceed to the second particular contained in the apostle’s charge:

“Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all

longsuffering and doctrine.”

1. BE ALWAYS READY AND ALWAYS ZEALOUS FOR THE

PUBLIC DUTIES OF YOUR OFFICE.

1 . You are perhaps afraid of dissipation of mind, and of all the unavoidable

dangers to which your zeal will expose you; but it is this fear, which,

through grace, will support you under them: we cannot fill our office with

fidelity and safety without possessing much of this holy, filial fear.

You

think yourself unworthy of a ministry so holy and so glorious; but it is this

sentiment itself which makes you evangelically worthy of it. No one can

exercise it in a manner worthy of God, who does not feel himself extremely

unworthy of it. You have a taste perhaps for retirement; but is this the taste

or the rule which should determine your duties? Are you become a public

minister, that you should live to yourself alone? indeed, your taste for

retirement, if properly used, and duly restrained, will, under the blessing of

God, assure the success of your public labors. Perhaps you are diffident

concerning your gifts; but is it not a great gift to possess an ardent desire for

the salvation of souls? With a heart penetrated and inflamed by this desire, a

minister will always succeed; it is in some degree a substitute for other

talents: what shall I say? It forms them in him.

Whereas, with the most

shining talents, without this tender love for souls, this apostolic zeal, we are

but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Only put yourselves into the

hands of those who are appointed to govern; they will employ you

according to your gifts and strength; it is not in you that in this instance it

appertains to judge. Blessed be the Lord, the field is various; they will find

out for you the place which suits you; and if nature has not bestowed on

you all the powers of oratory, the grace of God, and the spirit of the

missionary, will give you every thing necessary.

2 . Let us all, fathers and brethren, remember that, whatever be our talents,

whatever be our views, we are essentially wrong if we suffer them to lead

us out of the path of duty or the order of our station. We are commanded to

“be instant in season, out of season:” a minister, therefore, must perish in

the inutility of a life of retirement and repose; the duties of his ministry, and

the wants of the church of God, permit him not to enjoy them. “Nothing is

more opposed,” says St. Chrysostom, “to the spirit of the ministry to which

the church of Christ has joined us, than a quiet and retired life, which many

erroneously regard as the kind of life the most sublime and perfect.” No,

my brethren, nothing is safe for us but that which God requires of us. True

devotion is not the work of human taste and caprice; it is a divine gift, and

always in the order of God. The distrust of ourselves is a great virtue when

it makes us more attentive to the fulfillment of our duties; but it is an

illusion, a vice, when it draws us from them.

3 . Let us now, my brethren, in concluding this division of our subject, call

to mind the different sources from whence arises the defect of zeal in

ministers of the gospel. Indeed, we cannot too often set them before our

eyes; for they are the poisoned fountains from whence flow all the evils of

the church of Christ.

The first is, the love of this world and its conveniences: no sooner does

every thing commodious in the present life offer its tempting baits, but with

too many that fire of zeal, that flame of love for the salvation of souls,

vanishes away like the morning dew, to the astonishment of the discerning

beholder.

The second is, a defect of the love of God: it must be nearly extinguished in

our hearts, if we can daily behold the disorders and infidelity which

continually dishonor the name and holy religion of our God, without

embracing the most effectual method, if we be really called to the ministry

of the word, to stem the torrent.

The third is, a defect of love to mankind: for can those who are chosen of

God to the great work of snatching immortal spirits out of the burning, love

them, an yet calmly see them perish?

The fourth is, such a respect for men as makes us seek their friendship and

esteem at the expense of truth; I mean that baseness of spirit which ties our

tongues before them, and makes us prefer our own glory and our own

interests to the love of Christ and the interests of his church. Fortitude,

disinterestedness, a holy generosity, a wise and heroic firmness, are the

constant fruits of the true ministerial grace and office; and if these

sentiments be effaced from the heart of a minister, the grace of his vocation

is utterly extinct.

The fifth is, the indulgence of some secret vice; for what true zeal can that

preacher have against the vices of the world, who indulges himself in any

secret sin?

The sixth is, a dull, lukewarm spirit: zeal is a holy fervor, which gives its

first attention to ourselves. Alas! he who can indulge in himself a stupid,

lethargic spirit, will make but a miserable reprover of the deadness of

devotion which he observes in others.

The seventh, and last, is a timid and misinformed piety. Some refuse to

devote themselves. wholly to the work of the ministry, or give it up when

they have entered upon it, through a pious delusion. They make piety itself

a pretext to dispense with the rules of piety: they are afraid to lose their own

souls; but they are not afraid to lose the souls of those whom they are called

of God to be the instruments of saving. They believe they ought to fly from

those dangers to which the order of God, and of the church to which they

belong, calls them: and this flight is the only danger of which they are

ignorant, and yet the greatest they have to fear.

4 . In short, my brethren, it is in vain that our morals are otherwise

irreprehensible: it is not sufficient to lead a prudent and regular life before

the eyes of the world: if we be not penetrated with a lively sorrow at seeing

the lost estate of the souls around us; if we do not arm ourselves with the

seal of faith and love, and with that sword of the Spirit which is the word of

God, to bring them out of their ways of error; if we do not exhort them

“with all longsuffering and doctrine;” if we be not “instant in season and out

of season”; if we content with our own fancied righteousness, we imagine

ourselves safe in reproving and rebuking by our examples, or, like old Eli,

in only softly condemning the vice of others; our pretended virtue or

holiness, indolent, inactive, lethargic, is a crime, an abomination before

God: we feel not ourselves charged with the interests of God upon earth;

we live only for ourselves; we are no more ambassadors of Jesus Christ;

we are easy, useless spectators of the reproaches cast upon him and his

holy religion; and, by our silence and insensibility, consent to the crimes,

and are partakers of the guilt, of those who crucify him afresh. No, my

brethren let us not deceive ourselves; for, as I have already said, and must

repeat again, however well regulated the life of such a minister may seem,

he has but the appearance of piety; he has not the foundation and truth of it:

he seems to live, but he is dead in the sight of God: men perhaps may praise

him, but God curses him: the regularity of his life now lulls him to sleep;

but a terrible sound, and the clamors of the souls which he has suffered to

perish, shall one day awaken him thoroughly: he calms his mind, because

he bears a cold, dry testimony in favor of evangelical truths; or because he

compares the regularity of his life with that of many others called ministers;

but he shall one day see that his righteousness was but that of a Pharisee,

and shall in the end be ranked with the hypocrites and unprofitable servants,

<402530>Matthew 25:30.

5 . Ah! What, my brethren! A minister of Jesus Christ, sent to do his work

upon earth, to enlarge his kingdom, to advance the building of his eternal

city for him to see the reign of the devil prevail over that of Jesus Christ in

the place or places where he labors; and his faith, his love, his pretended

piety to suffer him to be quiet and at rest! Can a minister of the gospel hear

the name of Jesus, and the truth as it is in him whose place he fills, and

whom he professes to love and honor, daily derided or denied by word or

deed, and not be filled with zeal for the cause of his great Master so

opposed! What shall I say? Certainly he would speak with the authority

which the dignity of his office always gives him, and endeavor to inspire

sentiments more worthy of religion in those perverse, corrupted men: or he

would be a base coward, a prevaricator, a minister who betrayed his

ministry, if a criminal insensibility, or a carnal or timid prudence, could on

such occasions shut his mouth; and he all this time believe himself innocent

of the blood of souls! Can a faithful shepherd see his sheep precipitate

themselves into the abyss without running after them, and making them at

least to hear his voice? Nay, when a single sheep had wandered, he would

traverse the mountains, and endure the most painful toils, to bring it back

again on his shoulders, <421501>Luke 15. No, my brethren, the man just now

described is not a shepherd, not a minister of Jesus Christ; I reclaim the

name; he is a usurper, who falsely bears that honorable title; and,

notwithstanding all his profession, has willfully made himself a vessel of

reprobation and shame, placed in the temple of God!

6 . But it may be urged, that a traveling preacher in our connection is

responsible only for the societies under his care. The objector must certainly

have forgotten, or never have read, the rules of a preacher, which we have

all so solemnly promised to obey. The eleventh runs thus: — “You have

nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work;

and go always not only to those that want, but to those that want you most.

Observe! It is not your business only to preach so many times, and to take

care of this or that society, but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as

many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and, with all your power,

to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord.”

PART 2

2. A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL WILL BE

“INSTANT” FOR THE CAUSE OF HIS GREAT MASTER, IN

EVERY COMPANY INTO WHICH HE MAY HAPPEN TO

FALL.

1 . Our manners, our walk, our language, our whole exterior conduct,

should upon all occasions support the holy dignity of our calling. The most

accustomary familiarities of the world, the discourses of pleasantry the most

entertaining, are for us real indecencies: all that is unworthy of our ministry

is at all times unworthy of us. Some ministers persuade themselves that it is

necessary to accommodate themselves to the taste, the language, and

maxims of the world, that they may not appear bad or morose company: but

remember, my brethren, a minister is never in his place while he suits the

taste of the world; never, unless he be what is called bad company for the

world. From the time that the world seeks him, adopts him, associates with

him, and is pleased with his company, he gives a certain proof that he

respects not the propriety and decency which should invariably accompany

his office. And we may continually observe, that those ministers whom the

world seeks, whom the world applauds, and with whose company the

world in general is delighted, are carnal men, who have reserved nothing of

their holy vocation but the name: the spirit of the world shows itself in their

whole exterior deportment; it discovers itself in the impropriety of their

dress, in the lightness of their conversation, and even of their walk: nay,

often in the little true gravity and sanctity manifested in the performance of

their public duties. “If ye were of the world” says Christ, “the world would

love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you

out of the world, therefore the world hateth you,” <431519>John 15:19.

No, my

brethren, the men of the world seek not the company of a holy and

respectable minister; nor is he desirous of associating with them. It is when

they want consolation under affliction: it is when the approaches of death

make them feel themselves near to eternity: ah! it is then they have recourse

to a holy minister; they then regard not those of whom they were before so

fond; they are then conscious that such ministers can be of no service to

them; that they may be good for the things of the world, but are useless as

to the things of heaven. Depend on it, my brethren, it always costs us

something of the dignity and holy gravity of our office to purchase the

friendship and suffrages of men of the world: it is not they who will abate

of their prejudices and false maxims to unite themselves to us; it is we only

who must abate of the holy rules of the gospel to be admitted to their

societies. Let us, then, never lay down before the eyes of the men of the

world the holy gravity of our vocation, or the due and respectable

appearance of a minister of Jesus Christ: let them not be able to distinguish

between the minister in the pulpit and the minister in his usual commerce

with mankind. Let them find him throughout the same; throughout

respecting his character, and making it respectable to others; throughout

discovering the spirit of piety, yea, even by his presence alone.

2 . Then, my brethren, if we be at any time witnesses of those vices which

the customs of the world justify, we have a right to condemn them. If the

people of the world, whether rich or poor, indulge themselves before us in

such discourses as are but too common, and which offend either piety,

Christian love, or modesty, our character authorizes us to reprove them.

Nor will the world in general find fault with us, if we endeavor to sanctify

their conversations with pious, edifying remarks; for, as it is somewhere

observed in the Apocrypha, the Lord has dispersed us among the Gentiles,

among the people of the world, who know not God, that we may make

known the wonders of his holy law. No, my brethren, it does not become a

good minister to depart from the company of the people of the world,

without having mixed with their discourse some spiritual and edifying

reflections. When a minister is duly touched with the truths he preaches;

when he daily meditates upon them at the footstool of the throne; when he is

penetrated with an ardent, holy desire for the salvation of souls, it will be

difficult for him to see them wonder and perish, without at least

complaining to them, without taking occasion from their errors and

prejudices to say to them some word of salvation. And how know you, but

a simple and edifying reflection, delivered at a time when he expects it not,

may become to your brother a word of eternal life? He may be on his guard

if he hear you in public, and come prejudiced against the truths you are

delivering; but in a familiar conversation, truth takes the sinner unawares.

Candor, meekness, and simplicity, with the grace of God, will sometimes,

in private discourse, give to a truth, when least looked for, a strength which

it would not otherwise have. The unforeseen arrow is the most sure to reach

its mark. At least, you have done honor to your ministry, and been faithful

to that command of God, “Be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”

3 . When I entered on this division of any subject, I only intended to touch

it cursorily. But, considering the magnitude of it, and how seldom it has

been fully treated, I afterward determined to enlarge. And need I here

remind you, brethren, of that peculiar characteristic of the Methodists, that

they are a race of reprovers. It is their reproach, it is their honor, it is the

glory of the cross they bear, that every Christian, of every sect and party,

who dares to become a reprover of vice, is immediately stigmatized with the

name of Methodist. May we never lose that cross, that glory, till vice is

banished from the world, and “the earth is full of the knowledge of the

Lord, us the waters cover the sea!”

4 . “But is there not reason to fear, that by becoming thus importunate, we

shall often expose the truth to the contempt and derision of those to whom

we speak?” No, my brethren. A dissipated worldly preacher, I allow, could

but with an ill grace introduce observations of a spiritual nature into the

conversations of people of the world. He has by his vain conduct lost his

right. He would render himself ridiculous indeed, if he should labor to

recall to the minds of others truths which he himself appears to have

forgotten. The doctrines of piety would blush in his mouth; he would be

heard with contempt; and might be asked with a sneer, “Is Saul also among

the prophets?” <091011>1 Samuel 10:11,12. But, on the contrary, a holy minister

gives respectability to all his wise and edifying counsels; the men of the

world themselves will grant him attention, and, even if tired, will not be

surprised; they may reject the truth, but must in secret esteem him who

declares it.

I grant that this duty, as well as every thing else, should be guided by

Christian prudence. Christian love, which only desires to be useful, labors

to find out the most opportune moments; and many such will present

themselves in the course of the useless conversations of the men of the

world. They speak together of their affairs, their projects, their

embarrassments, their subjects of complaint against their enemies or

competitors, of their disappointments, and of their misfortunes. Now,

cannot the Spirit of God, which actuates a holy minister, find in all this

innumerable occasions to deplore the sad and agitated life of those who love

the world; to describe to them the peace, the sweetness, the consolations of

a holy Christian life; and to mourn over them, as enjoying no genuine

happiness in the present life, but preparing for themselves in this world a

thousand disturbances, a thousand pains, and misery eternal in the next?

5 . On the other hand, my brethren, there are occasions when the fear of

offending should be entirely banished. A minister of the gospel is a public

character, charged with the interests of the glory of God, and the honor of

religion, among men: he ought, therefore, never to suffer men of the world,

whoever they may be, to pass without a bold, though holy, reproof, when

the respect due to the majesty of God is wounded, when the precious and

sublime doctrines of the gospel are treated with derision, when vice is

justified, or holiness and virtue turned into ridicule: in short, when

licentiousness or impiety in discourse dishonors the presence of God and

the presence of his ministers. Ah! it is then that the piety and dignity of a

minister should no more prescribe to him any other measure or bounds but

that of zeal — the zeal which is the flame of love, mixed with the just

indignation of a lover of God. It is then that, charged by his office with the

interests of religion, he should know no one after the flesh; he should forget

the names, the titles, the distinctions of those who forget themselves; he

should remember that he is appointed of God a preacher of righteousness,

and endued with power from heaven to oppose all manner of sin: and,

especially, to set himself with a sacred intrepidity against that impious and

detestable pride which would exalt itself against the knowledge of God.

Whatever persons they be who do not treat with respect in your presence

that which is the most respectable of all things in the universe, should not

be respected by you: we ought to hear them with that kind of indignation

with which we believe Christ himself would have heard them. I am

persuaded that the pointed strength of reproof is the only kind of propriety

which our character then imposes upon us; We are not then required to use

soft expressions, “Nay, my son, it is no good report that I hear.” Whether

they will hear, or whether they will forbear, we should deliver our own

souls.

It is esteemed honorable by the world to support the interests of a friend

pointedly and boldly, if he be insulted in our presence. Have we then at

such a time a right to impose silence with firmness on the calumniator?

Shall we not disgrace ourselves, and be accounted treacherous, yea, base

and dastardly cowards, if we can suffer our friends to be abused in our

presence without undertaking their defense? And shall we not have the same

zeal to stop the mouth of the impious, and support aloud the interests of

Jesus Christ? Can we imagine that we are his friends, according to that

saying of our Lord, “Henceforth, I call you not servants, but I have called

you friends?” <431515>John 15:15; — can we suppose that we have performed all

which that tender and honorable title requires, by dissembling, — by

contenting ourselves with strengthening through our dastardly silence the

insults with which he is treated, and by sacrificing, through a dishonorable

weakness, through the fear of man, his name and his glory? No, my

brethren, we are not the friends whom Jesus Christ has chosen — this title

disgraces us, if his insulted name does not rouse in us all our love and all

our zeal for his adorable person.

6 . O that I could impress these important truths with the fullest conviction

upon all our hearts! What a flame would soon be kindled in the world!

What could not a thousand traveling preachers in Europe and America do

for their Master, if all were thoroughly filled with this spirit of holy zeal!

But should we confine our observation to these alone? Certainly, our local

preachers, exhorters, and even our leaders, are in their respective degrees

called to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. The whole together probably make

not less than fifteen thousand lights to illuminate the world. O that they

were all faithful. “O God, inspire them all with the love of thy glory!” Yes,

fathers and brethren, I know and rejoice in the mighty good which has been

wrought upon the earth by your instrumentality: but you may still do

abundantly more: yea, we might all of us have already been much more

useful than we have been. “Lord, humble us before thee for our past

unfaithfulness.”

7 . But I must here observe, brethren, that a minister faithful to his duty,

who respects his office, and loves the people intrusted to his charge, will

find but little time to sacrifice to the useless conversations and dissipated

spirit of the world. He seldom appears among the people of the world; for,

having no taste for their pleasures or amusements, or even for their

company, the unavoidable calls of duty or propriety which require him to be

among them are but rare. We cannot often be in their company, without not

only injuring the divine life within us, but more or less debasing ourselves

and our sacred office in their eyes. All corrupt as the world which lieth in

the wicked one is, it exacts from us virtue without spot, without clouds,

and even without any of those infirmities which are inseparable from

humanity.

8 . The more the world is indulgent to itself, the more severe it is in respect

to us: it believes that it may indulge itself in every thing, and yet in us will

pass over nothing. It has perpetually upon us the eyes of malevolent

censors. A word out of order, a simple inattention, the least motion which

may be construed into impropriety, a compliment paid without due

reflection, become in us faults which will not soon be forgotten. The men

of the world, if possible, will give a shade to all our words and actions;

draw from them the most invidious consequences; and even in those

moments when we relax ourselves in their favor from the gravity of our

character they will attribute the whole to a taste of their spirit, and to a secret

approbation of their views which we dare not avow, rather than to

condescension and complaisance toward them. They will at last be bold

enough to tempt us to imitate them in the liberties they take; will treat our

precautions and reserve as the fruits of a minute and contracted spirit; and

for the little we abate in the dignity of our character for the sake of pleasing

them, they will in our absence pay our complaisance with the most insolent

derisions and dishonorable reflections.

9 . There is nothing, therefore, my brethren, more deceitful than the idea of

gaining the esteem and good opinion of the world, by familiarizing

ourselves and mixing often with it. The more the world sees us, except in

our public duties, the more will it either hate or despise us. It hates us from

the instant it feels that we will not put up with its manners. Let us very

rarely have any thing to do with it, and we shall appear in its eyes with

greater dignity, and be treated with greater respect. Let us attend to every

due and proper call which the world may justly require of us, as well as to

all the demands of charity and good works; but let us always conduct

ourselves as the ambassadors of Jesus Christ, as in some sense filling his

place. It is then only that our ministerial character, under the grace and

providence of God, will be to us a safeguard against every temptation. But

if we seek the world for the sake of the world, we must conform to its taste

and its manners. We should be badly received upon the present ground,

were we to carry there that holy gravity which should never forsake us. We

should derange its pleasures, disconcert its assemblies, and its liberty of

speech. We should be an intolerable burden to it. Our presence alone would

be horrible; and it would say of us, as the enemies of holiness say of the

righteous man in the Wisdom of Solomon, “He is grievous to us to

behold!” There is no alternative. We must die to the world; or partake of its

spirit. We cannot serve God and mammon.

10. I am very conscious, brethren, that our itinerant plan is to be preferred

to any other in this as in a thousand respects. We are seldom tempted to be

in the world. We must love it exceedingly if we find many occasions to be

in it. Our time is spent between the mount, the multitude, and our own

people. We almost continually reside in families which look for, and which

love and honor, the seriousness and gravity of their preacher. It is their

delight to converse with us on the things of God: if it were not so, they

would be disgraceful members of our society. Yes, it is food to the souls of

our people to have what they have heard in the pulpit pressed upon them in

conversation at the fireside: and we should be the most inexcusable of men,

if we did not improve these precious opportunities among the families we

visit. The Methodist preachers,” said the late Revelation Charles Wesley to

me once “do not fully consider all the blessings of their situation; one of the

greatest of which,” added he, “is that wall of contempt with which you are

surrounded, and which preserves you from a thousand temptations to

which the clergy in general are exposed, by keeping the world at a distance

from you.” But though our calls to mix with the men of the world are but

rare, let us never on such occasions betray our Master, but conduct

ourselves as faithful servants, ambassadors, and friends of Jesus Christ.

11. I may sum up the whole in these words of the apostle,

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after

righteousness, godliness, love, patience, meekness,”

<540611>1 Timothy 6:11.

If you were of the world, its interests, its prejudices, its vanities, would be

your portion: you would be obliged to conform to its maxims and language,

to justify it, and to rise up against all those who dare condemn it: but you

are men of God; you are in the world, but you are not of the world: you are

charged in the midst of it with the interests of God, with the care of his

glory, and with the honor of his spiritual worship. The ambassador of a

king speaks only in the name of him employer: he knows no other man

while he acts from the authority, and is concerned with the interests, of the

kingdom he represents: he lays aside the private character, and appears

always in his public capacity. And shall we, brethren, who are ambassadors

for the King of kings, men of God in the midst of a world which is at war

with him — shall we lay aside our holy and public character with which he

has invested its, and become men of the world, his enemies, friends? Shall

we blush to speak the language of Him who employs us? Shall we suffer

him to be insulted in our presence without supporting his interests and his

glory — without using the authority with which he has clothed us to set

ourselves with a holy zeal against the despisers of his name, his laws, and

his truth? Shall we, my brethren, forgetting the majesty of Him we

represent, and the honor he has conferred upon us by intrusting his

embassy and authority to us — shall we authorize by our conduct the

maxims of the world, his enemy? Shall we appear to hold intelligence with

it, that its errors and prejudices may prevail over his divine doctrines, and

sacred morals, of which he has made us the public dispensers and

defenders? No, my brethren; let us bear our holy title of men of God, as it

were, upon our foreheads, and through all the minutest particular of our

conduct: let us throughout be men of God: let all our most common actions,

conversation, fellowship, and commerce with mankind, be ennobled and

sanctified by this holy and honorable character: let us never abase ourselves

by laying it aside for a moment; and let us remember that the world will

always respect it in us as long. as we respect it in ourselves.

12. Destroy, then, O our God, in the hearts of thy ministers the strength of

all those obstacles which the world, the flesh, and the devil incessantly

oppose to that zeal which renders them instruments of thy mercies to

mankind: inflame them with that spirit of fire and wisdom which thou didst

shed abroad in the hearts of thy first disciples: let the succession of this

apostolic zeal be transmitted with increasing abundance in thy church, with

the succession of that ministry which thou hast promised to be with always,

even unto the end of the world. <402802>Matthew 28:23. Send forth more laborers

into thy vineyard, men “mighty in deed and word,” whom the world may

not intimidate, whom all the powers of the earth may not be able to shake,

whom worldly interests may never influence, whom thy glory and the

salvation of souls may regulate and animate in all their undertakings; and

who will esteem the opinions of men as nothing, but as far as they

contribute to make thee adored and glorified in all ages!

 

Preacher And Prayer

THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER

by E. M. Bounds

Introduction:

This is page 2 of a 2 page compilation of Mr. Bounds’ work. On this page we are placing excerpts from the book titled above and do so for your edification and education. We encourage you to purchase his books and these excerpts come from the Ages Software system electronic edition

1 PRAYER AND FAITH

IN any study of the principles, and procedure of prayer, of its activities

and enterprises, first place, must, of necessity, be given to faith. It is the

initial quality in the heart of any man who essays to talk to the Unseen.

He must, out of sheer helplessness, stretch forth hands of faith. He must

believe, where he cannot prove. In the ultimate issue, prayer is simply

faith, claiming its natural yet marvelous prerogatives — faith taking

possession of its illimitable inheritance. True godliness is just as true,

steady, and persevering in the realm of faith as it is in the province of

prayer. Moreover: when faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live.

Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and

nothing is impossible with God. How great — without qualification or

limitation — is the power of faith! If doubt be banished from the heart,

and unbelief made stranger there, what we ask of God shall surely come to

pass, and a believer hath vouchsafed to him “whatsoever he saith.”

Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move

mountains, but faith and prayer move God. In His cursing of the fig-tree

our Lord demonstrated His power. Following that, He proceeded to

declare, that large powers were committed to faith and prayer, not in order

to kill but to make alive, not to blast but to bless.

At this point in our study, we turn to a saying of our Lord, which there is

need to emphasize, since it is the very keystone of the arch of faith and

prayer.

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye

pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

We should ponder well that statement — “Believe that ye receive them,

and ye shall have them.” Here is described a faith which realizes, which

appropriates, which takes. Such faith is a consciousness of the Divine, an

experienced communion, a realized certainty.

Is faith growing or declining as the years go by? Does faith stand strong

and four square, these days, as iniquity abounds and the love of many

grows cold? Does faith maintain its hold, as religion tends to become a

mere formality and worldliness increasingly prevails? The enquiry of our

Lord, may, with great appropriateness, be ours. “When the Son of Man

cometh,” He asks, “shall He find faith on the earth?” We believe that He

will, and it is ours, in this our day, to see to it that the lamp of faith is

trimmed and burning, lest He come who shall come, and that right early.

Faith is the foundation of Christian character and the security of the soul.

When Jesus was looking forward to Peter’s denial, and cautioning him

against it, He said unto His disciple:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, to sift you

as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fall not.”

Our Lord was declaring a central truth; it was Peter’s faith He was seeking

to guard; for well He knew that when faith is broken down, the

foundations of spiritual life give way, and the entire structure of religious

experience falls. It was Peter’s faith which needed guarding. Hence

Christ’s solicitude for the welfare of His disciple’s soul and His

determination to fortify Peter’s faith by His own all-prevailing prayer.

In his Second Epistle, Peter has this idea in mind when speaking of growth

in grace as a measure of safety in the Christian life, and as implying

fruitfulness.

“And besides this,” he declares, “giving diligence, add to your faith

virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and

to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”

Of this additioning process, faith was the starting-point — the basis of the

other graces of the Spirit. Faith was the foundation on which other things

were to be built. Peter does not enjoin his readers to add to works or gifts

or virtues but to faith. Much depends on starting right in this business of

growing in grace. There is a Divine order, of which Peter was aware; and so

he goes on to declare that we are to give diligence to making our calling and

election sure, which election is rendered certain adding to faith which, in

turn, is done by constant, earnest praying. Thus faith is kept alive by

prayer, and every step taken, in this adding of grace to grace, is

accompanied by prayer.

The faith which creates powerful praying is the faith which centers itself

on a powerful Person. Faith in Christ’s ability to do and to do greatly, is

the faith which prays greatly. Thus the leper lay hold upon the power of

Christ. “Lord, if Thou wilt,” he cried, “Thou canst make me clean.” In this

instance, we are shown how faith centered in Christ’s ability to do, and

how it secured the healing power.

It was concerning this very point, that Jesus questioned the blind men

who came to Him for healing:

“Believe ye that I am able to do this?” He asks. “They said unto

Him, Yea, Lord. Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to

your faith be it unto you.”

It was to inspire faith in His ability to do that Jesus left behind Him, that

last, great statement, which, in the final analysis, is a ringing challenge to

faith. “All power,” He declared, “is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”

9

Again: faith is obedient; it goes when commanded, as did the nobleman,

who came to Jesus, in the day of His flesh, and whose son was grievously

sick.

Moreover: such faith acts. Like the man who was born blind, it goes to

wash in the pool of Siloam when told to wash. Like Peter on Gennesaret it

casts the net where Jesus commands, instantly, without question or doubt.

Such faith takes away the stone from the grave of Lazarus promptly. A

praying faith keeps the commandments of God and does those things

which are well pleasing in His sight. It asks, “Lord, what wilt Thou have

me to do?” and answers quickly, “Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth.”

Obedience helps faith, and faith, in turn, helps obedience. To do God’s

will is essential to true faith, and faith is necessary to implicit obedience.

Yet faith is called upon, and that right often to wait in patience before

God, and is prepared for God’s seeming delays in answering prayer.

Faith does not grow disheartened because prayer is not immediately honored; it

takes God at His Word, and lets Him take what time He chooses in

fulfilling His purposes, and in carrying on His work. There is bound to be

much delay and long days of waiting for true faith, but faith accepts the

conditions — knows there will be delays in answering prayer, and regards

such delays as times of testing, in the which, it is privileged to show its

mettle, and the stern stuff of which it is made.

The case of Lazarus was an instance of where there was delay, where the

faith of two good women was sorely tried: Lazarus was critically ill, and

his sisters sent for Jesus. But, without any known reason, our Lord

delayed His going to the relief of His sick friend. The plea was urgent and

touching — “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick,” — but the

Master is not moved by it, and the women’s earnest request seemed to fall

on deaf ears. What a trial to faith! Furthermore: our Lord’s tardiness

appeared to bring about hopeless disaster. While Jesus tarried, Lazarus

died.

But the delay of Jesus was exercised in the interests of a greater good.

Finally, He makes His way to the home in Bethany.

“Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am

glad for your sakes, that I was not there, to the intent ye may

believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.”

Fear not, O tempted and tried believer, Jesus will come, if patience be

exercised, and faith hold fast. His delay will serve to make His coming the

more richly blessed. Pray on. Wait on. Thou canst not fail. If Christ delay,

wait for Him. In His own good time, He will come, and will not tarry.

Delay is often the test and the strength of faith. How much patience is

required when these times of testing come! Yet faith gathers strength by

waiting and praying. Patience has its perfect work in the school of delay.

In some instances, delay is of the very essence of the prayer. God has to

do many things, antecedent to giving the final answer — things which are

essential to the lasting good of him who is requesting favor at His hands.

Jacob prayed, with point and ardor, to be delivered from Esau. But before

that prayer could be answered, there was much to be done with, and for

Jacob. He must be changed, as well as Esau. Jacob had to be made into a

new man, before Esau could be. Jacob had to be converted to God, before

Esau could be converted to Jacob.

Among the large and luminous utterances of Jesus concerning prayer, none

is more arresting than this:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the

works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall

he do; because I go unto My Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask

in My Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the

Son. If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it.”

How wonderful are these statements of what God will do in answer to

prayer! Of how great importance these ringing words, prefaced, as they

are, with the most solemn verity! Faith in Christ is the basis of all

working, and of all praying. All wonderful works depend on wonderful

praying, and all praying is done in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amazing

lesson, of wondrous simplicity, is this praying in the name of the Lord

Jesus! All other conditions are depreciated, everything else is renounced,

save Jesus only. The name of Christ — the Person of our Lord and Savior

Jesus Christ — must be supremely sovereign, in the hour and article of

prayer.

If Jesus dwell at the fountain of my life; if the currents of His life have

displaced and superseded all self-currents; if implicit obedience to Him be

the inspiration and force of every movement of my life, then He can safely

commit the praying to my will, and pledge Himself, by an obligation as

profound as His own nature, that whatsoever is asked shall be granted.

Nothing can be clearer, more distinct, more unlimited both in application

and extent, than the exhortation and urgency of Christ, “Have faith in

God.”

Faith covers temporal as well as spiritual needs. Faith dispels all undue

anxiety and needless care about what shall be eaten, what shall he drunk,

what shall be worn. Faith lives in the present, and regards the day as being

sufficient unto the evil thereof. It lives day by day, and dispels all fears for

the morrow. Faith brings great ease of mind and perfect peace of heart.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on

Thee: because he trusted in Thee.”

When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are, in a measure,

shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in tomorrow but in

today. We do not seek tomorrow’s grace or tomorrow’s bread. They

thrive best, and get most out of life, who live in the living present. They

pray best who pray for today’s needs, not for tomorrow’s, which may

render our prayers unnecessary and redundant by not existing at all!

True prayers are born of present trials and present needs. Bread, for

today, is bread enough. Bread given for today is the strongest sort of

pledge that there will be bread tomorrow. Victory today, is the assurance

of victory tomorrow. Our prayers need to be focused upon the present,

We must trust God today, and leave the morrow entirely with Him. The

present is ours; the future belongs to God. Prayer is the task and duty of

each recurring day — daily prayer for daily needs.

As every day demands its bread, so every day demands its prayer. No

amount of praying, done today, will suffice for tomorrow’s praying. On

the other hand, no praying for tomorrow is of any great value to us today.

Today’s manna is what we need; tomorrow God will see that our needs

are supplied. This is the faith which God seeks to inspire. So leave

tomorrow, with its cares, its needs, its troubles, in God’s hands. There is

no storing tomorrow’s grace or tomorrow’s praying; neither is there any

laying-up of today’s grace, to meet tomorrow’s necessities. We cannot

have tomorrow’s grace, we cannot eat tomorrow’s bread, we cannot do

tomorrow’s praying. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof;” and,

most assuredly, if we possess faith, sufficient also, will be the good.

3 PRAYER AND TRUST

PRAYER does not stand alone. It is not an isolated duty and independent

principle. It lives in association with other Christian duties, is wedded to

other principles, is a partner with other graces. But to faith, prayer is

indissolubly joined. Faith gives it color and tone, shapes its character, and

secures its results.

Trust is faith become absolute, ratified, consummated. There is, when all is

said and done, a sort of venture in faith and its exercise. But trust is firm

belief, it is faith in full flower. Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we

are sensible. According to the Scriptural concept it is the eye of the

new-born soul, and the ear of the renewed soul. It is the feeling of the soul,

the spiritual eye, the ear, the taste, the feeling — these one and all have to

do with trust. How luminous, how distinct, how conscious, how

powerful, and more than all, how Scriptural is such a trust! How different

from many forms of modern belief, so feeble, dry, and cold! These new

phases of belief bring no consciousness of their presence, no “Joy

unspeakable and full of glory” results from their exercise. They are, for the

most part, adventures in the peradventures of the soul. There is no safe,

sure trust in anything. The whole transaction takes place in the realm of

Maybe and Perhaps.

Trust like life, is feeling, though much more than feeling. An unfelt life is a

contradiction; an unfelt trust is a misnomer, a delusion, a contradiction.

Trust is the most felt of all attributes. It is all feeling, and it works only by

love. An unfelt love is as impossible as an unfelt trust. The trust of which

we are now speaking is a conviction. An unfelt conviction? How absurd!

Trust sees God doing things here and now. Yea, more. It rises to a lofty

eminence, and looking into the invisible and the eternal, realizes that God

has done things, and regards them as being already done. Trust brings

eternity into the annals and happenings of time, transmutes the substance

of hope into the reality of fruition, and changes promise into present

possession. We know when we trust just as we know when we see, just as

we are conscious of our sense of touch. Trust sees, receives, holds. Trust

is its own witness.

Yet, quite often, faith is too weak to obtain God’s greatest good,

immediately; so it has to wait in loving, strong, prayerful, pressing

obedience, until it grows in strength, and is able to bring down the eternal,

into the realms of experience and time.

To this point, trust masses all its forces. Here it holds. And in the struggle,

trust’s grasp becomes mightier, and grasps, for itself, all that God has done

for it in His eternal wisdom and plenitude of grace.

In the matter of waiting in prayer, mightiest prayer, faith rises to its

highest plane and becomes indeed the gift of God. It becomes the blessed

disposition and expression of the soul which is secured by a constant

intercourse with, and unwearied application to God.

Jesus Christ clearly taught that faith was the condition on which prayer

was answered. When our Lord had cursed the fig-tree, the disciples were

much surprised that its withering had actually taken place, and their

remarks indicated their in credulity. It was then that Jesus said to them,

“Have faith in God.”

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this

mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, and shall

not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he

saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye

pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the prayer- chamber. Its

unfolding and development are rapid and wholesome when they are

regularly and well kept. When these engagements are hearty and full and

free, trust flourishes exceedingly. The eye and presence of God give

vigorous life to trust, just as the eye and the presence of the sun make fruit

and flower to grow, and all things glad and bright with fuller life.

“Have faith in God,” “Trust in the Lord” form the keynote and foundation

of prayer. Primarily, it is not trust in the Word of God, but rather trust in

the Person of God. For trust in the Person of God must precede trust in

the Word of God. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me,” is the demand

our Lord makes on the personal trust of His disciples. The person of Jesus

Christ must be central, to the eye of trust. This great truth Jesus sought to

impress upon Martha, when her brother lay dead, in the home at Bethany.

Martha asserted her belief in the fact of the resurrection of her brother:

“Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the

resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus lifts her trust clear above the mere fact of the resurrection, to His

own Person, by saying:

“I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though

he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth

in Me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him,

Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God,

which should come into the world.”

Trust, in an historical fact or in a mere record may be a very passive thing,

but trust in a person vitalizes the quality, fructifies it, informs it with love.

The trust which informs prayer centers in a Person.

Trust goes even further than this. The trust which inspires our prayer

must be not only trust in the Person of God, and of Christ, but in their

ability and willingness to grant the thing prayed for. It is not only, “Trust,

ye, in the Lord,” but, also, “for in the Lord Jehovah, is everlasting

strength.”

The trust which our Lord taught as a condition of effectual prayer, is not

of the head but of the heart. It is trust which “doubteth not in his heart.”

Such trust has the Divine assurance that it shall be honored with large and

satisfying answers. The strong promise of our Lord brings faith down to

the present, and counts on a present answer.

Do we believe, without a doubt? When we pray, do we believe, not that

we shall receive the things for which we ask on a future day, but that we

receive them, then and there? Such is the teaching of this inspiring

Scripture. How we need to pray, “Lord, increase our faith,” until doubt be

gone, and implicit trust claims the promised blessings, as its very own.

This is no easy condition. It is reached only after many a failure, after

much praying, after many waitings, after much trial of faith. May our faith

so increase until we realize and receive all the fullness there is in that Name

which guarantees to do so much.

Our Lord puts trust as the very foundation of praying. The background of

prayer is trust. The whole issuance of Christ’s ministry and work was

dependent on implicit trust in His Father. The center of trust is God.

Mountains of difficulties, and all other hindrances to prayer are moved out

of the way by trust and his virile henchman, faith. When trust is perfect

and without doubt, prayer is simply the outstretched hand, ready to

receive. Trust perfected, is prayer perfected. Trust looks to receive the

thing asked for — and gets it. Trust is not a belief that God can bless, that

He will bless, but that He does bless, here and now. Trust always operates

in the present tense. Hope looks toward the future. Trust looks to the

present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust receives what prayer

acquires. So that what prayer needs, at all times, is abiding and abundant

trust.

Their lamentable lack of trust and resultant failure of the disciples to do

what they were sent out to do, is seen in the case of the lunatic son, who

was brought by his father to nine of them while their Master was on the

Mount of Transfiguration. A boy, sadly afflicted, was brought to these

men to be cured of his malady. They had been commissioned to do this

very kind of work. This was a part of their mission. They attempted to

cast out the devil from the boy, but had signally failed. The devil was too

much for them. They were humiliated at their failure, and filled with

shame, while their enemies were in triumph. Amid the confusion incident

to failure Jesus draws near. He is informed of the circumstances, and told

of the conditions connected therewith. Here is the succeeding account:

“Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse

generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer

you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil, and he

departed out of him and the child was cured from that very hour.

And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him

privately, Why could not we cast him out? And He said unto

them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and

fasting.”

Wherein lay the difficulty with these men? They had been lax in

cultivating their faith by prayer and, as a consequence, their trust utterly

failed. They trusted not God, nor Christ, nor the authenticity of His

mission, or their own. So has it been many a time since, in many a crisis in

the Church of God. Failure has resulted from a lack of trust, or from a

weakness of faith, and this, in turn, from a lack of prayerfulness. Many a

failure in revival efforts has been traceable to the same cause. Faith had not

been nurtured and made powerful by prayer. Neglect of the inner chamber

is the solution of most spiritual failure. And this is as true of our personal

struggles with the devil as was the case when we went forth to attempt to

cast out devils. To be much on our knees in private communion with God

is the only surety that we shall have Him with us either in our personal

struggles, or in our efforts to convert sinners.

Everywhere, in the approaches of the people to Him, our Lord put trust in

Him, and the divinity of His mission, in the forefront. He gave no

definition of trust, and He furnishes no theological discussion of, or

analysis of it; for He knew that men would see what faith was by what

faith did; and from its free exercise trust grew up, spontaneously, in His

presence. It was the product of His work, His power and His Person.

These furnished and created an atmosphere most favorable for its exercise

and development. Trust is altogether too splendidly simple for verbal

definition; too hearty and spontaneous for theological terminology. The

very simplicity of trust is that which staggers many people. They look

away for some great thing to come to pass, while all the time “the word is

nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.”

When the saddening news of his daughter’s death was brought to Jairus

our Lord interposed: “Be not afraid,” He said calmly, “only believe.” To

the woman with the issue of blood, who stood tremblingly before Him, He

said:

“Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be

whole of thy plague.”

As the two blind men followed Him, pressing their way into the house, He

said:

“According to your faith be it unto you

And their eyes were opened.”

When the paralytic was let down through the roof of the house, where

Jesus was teaching, and placed before Him by four of his friends, it is

recorded after this fashion:

“And Jesus seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy: Son,

be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

When Jesus dismissed the centurion whose servant was seriously ill, and

who had come to Jesus with the prayer that He speak the healing word,

without even going to his house, He did it in the manner following:

“And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast

believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the

selfsame hour.”

When the poor leper fell at the feet of Jesus and cried out for relief, “Lord,

if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean,” Jesus immediately granted his

request, and the man glorified Him with a loud voice. Then Jesus said unto

him, “Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”

The Syrophenician woman came to Jesus with the case of her afflicted

daughter, making the case her own, with the prayer, “Lord, help me,”

making a fearful and heroic struggle. Jesus honors her faith and prayer,

saying:

“O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.

And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

After the disciples had utterly failed to cast the devil out of the epileptic

boy, the father of the stricken lad came to Jesus with the plaintive and

almost despairing cry, “If Thou canst do anything, have compassion on us

and help us.” But Jesus replied, “If thou canst believe, all things are

possible to him that believeth.”

Blind Bartimaeus sitting by the wayside, hears our Lord as He passes by,

and cries out pitifully and almost despairingly, “Jesus, Thou son of David,

have mercy on me.” The keen ears of our Lord immediately catch the

sound of prayer, and He says to the beggar:

“Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he

received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”

To the weeping, penitent woman, washing His feet with her tears and

wiping them with the hair of her head, Jesus speaks cheering,

soul-comforting words: “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

One day Jesus healed ten lepers at one time, in answer to their united

prayer, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” and He told them to go and

show themselves to the priests. “And it came to pass as they went, they

were cleansed.”

6 PRAYER AND IMPORTUNITY

OUR Lord Jesus declared that “men ought always to pray and not to

faint,” and the parable in which His words occur, was taught with the

intention of saving men from faint-heartedness and weakness in prayer.

Our Lord was seeking to teach that laxity must be guarded against, and

persistence fostered and encouraged. There can be no two opinions

regarding the importance of the exercise of this indispensable quality in our

praying.

Importunate prayer is a mighty movement of the soul toward God. It is a

stirring of the deepest forces of the soul, toward the throne of heavenly

grace. It is the ability to hold on, press on, and wait. Restless desire,

restful patience, and strength of grasp are all embraced in it. It is not an

incident, or a performance, but a passion of soul. It is not a want,

half-needed, but a sheer necessity.

The wrestling quality in importunate prayers does not spring from

physical vehemence or fleshly energy. It is not an impulse of energy, not a

mere earnestness of soul; it is an inwrought force, a faculty implanted and

aroused by the Holy Spirit. Virtually, it is the intercession of the Spirit of

God, in us; it is, moreover, “the effectual, fervent prayer, which availeth

much.” The Divine Spirit informing every element within us, with the

energy of His own striving, is the essence of the importunity which urges

our praying at the mercy-seat, to continue until the fire falls and the

blessing descends. This wrestling in prayer may not be boisterous nor

vehement, but quiet, tenacious and urgent. Silent, it may be, when there are

no visible outlets for its mighty forces.

Nothing distinguishes the children of God so clearly and strongly as

prayer. It is the one infallible mark and test of being a Christian. Christian

people are prayerful, the worldly- minded, prayerless. Christians call on

God; worldlings ignore God, and call not on His Name. But even the

Christian had need to cultivate continual prayer. Prayer must be habitual,

but much more than a habit. It is duty, yet one which rises far above, and

goes beyond the ordinary implications of the term. It is the expression of a

relation to God, a yearning for Divine communion. It is the outward and

upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an

assertion of the soul’s paternity, a claiming of the sonship, which links

man to the Eternal.

Prayer has everything to do with molding the soul into the image of God,

and has everything to do with enhancing and enlarging the measure of

Divine grace. It has everything to do with bringing the soul into complete

communion with God. It has everything to do with enriching, broadening

and maturing the soul’s experience of God. That man cannot possibly be

called a Christian, who does not pray. By no possible pretext can he claim

any right to the term, nor its implied significance. If he do not pray, he is a

sinner, pure and simple, for prayer is the only way in which the soul of

man can enter into fellowship and communion with the Source of all

Christlike spirit and energy. Hence, if he pray not, he is not of the

household of faith.

In this study however, we turn our thought to one phase of prayer — that

of importunity; the pressing of our desires upon God with urgency and

perseverance; the praying with that tenacity and tension which neither

relaxes nor ceases until its plea is heard, and its cause is won.

He who has clear views of God, and Scriptural conceptions of the Divine

character; who appreciates his privilege of approach unto God; who

understands his inward need of all that God has for him — that man will

be solicitous, outspoken and importunate. In Holy Writ, the duty of

prayer, itself, is advocated in terms which are only barely stronger than

those in which the necessity for its importunity is set forth. The praying

which influences God is declared to be that of the fervent, effectual

outpouring of a righteous man. That is to say, it is prayer on fire, having

no feeble, flickering flame, no momentary flash, but shining with a

vigorous and steady glow.

The repeated intercessions of Abraham for the salvation of Sodom and

Gomorrah present an early example of the necessity for, and benefit

deriving from importunate praying. Jacob, wrestling all night with the

angel, gives significant emphasis to the power of a dogged perseverance in

praying, and shows how, in things spiritual, importunity succeeds, just as

effectively as it does in matters relating to time and sense.

As we have noted, elsewhere, Moses prayed forty days and forty nights,

seeking to stay the wrath of God against Israel, and his example and

success are a stimulus to present-day faith in its darkest hour. Elijah

repeated and urged his prayer seven times ere the raincloud appeared

above the horizon, heralding the success of his prayer and the victory of

his faith. On one occasion Daniel though faint and weak, pressed his case

three weeks, ere the answer and the blessing came.

Many nights during His earthly life did the blessed Savior spend in prayer.

In Gethsemane He presented the same petition, three times, with

unabated, urgent, yet submissive importunity, which involved every

element of His soul, and issued in tears and bloody sweat. His life crises

were distinctly marked, his life victories all won, in hours of importunate

prayer. And the servant is not greater than his Lord.

The Parable of the Importunate Widow is a classic of insistent prayer. We

shall do well to refresh our remembrance of it, at this point in our study:

“And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought

always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a

judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man; and there was a

widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of

my adversary. And he would not for a while; but afterward he said

within himself, Though I fear not God nor regard man; yet because

this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual

coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust

judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry

day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you

He will avenge them speedily.”

This parable stresses the central truth of importunate prayer. The widow

presses her case till the unjust judge yields. If this parable does not teach

the necessity for importunity, it has neither point nor instruction in it.

Take this one thought away, and you have nothing left worth recording.

Beyond all cavil, Christ intended it to stand as an evidence of the need that

exists, for insistent prayer.

We have the same teaching emphasized in the incident of the

Syrophenician woman, who came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. Here,

importunity is demonstrated, not as a stark impertinence, but as with the

persuasive habiliments of humility, sincerity, and fervency. We are given a

glimpse of a woman’s clinging faith, a woman’s bitter grief, and a woman’s

spiritual insight. The Master went over into that Sidonian country in order

that this truth might be mirrored for all time — there is no plea so

efficacious as importunate prayer, and none to which God surrenders

Himself so fully and so freely.

The importunity of this distressed mother, won her the victory, and

materialized her request. Yet instead of being an offense to the Savior, it

drew from Him a word of wonder, and glad surprise. “O woman, great is

thy faith! Be it unto thee, even as thou wilt.”

He prays not at all, who does not press his plea. Cold prayers have no

claim on heaven, and no hearing in the courts above. Fire is the life of

prayer, and heaven is reached by flaming importunity rising in an

ascending scale.

Reverting to the case of the importunate widow, we see that her

widowhood, her friendlessness, and her weakness counted for nothing

with the unjust judge. Importunity was everything. “Because this widow

troubleth me,” he said, “I will avenge her speedily, lest she weary me.”

Solely because the widow imposed upon the time and attention of the

unjust judge, her case was won.

God waits patiently as, day and night, His elect cry unto Him. He is

moved by their requests a thousand times more than was this unjust judge.

A limit is set to His tarrying, by the importunate praying of His people,

and the answer richly given. God finds faith in His praying child — the

faith which stays and cries — and He honors it by permitting its further

exercise, to the end that it is strengthened and enriched. Then He rewards

it by granting the burden of its plea, in plenitude and finality.

The case of the Syrophenician woman previously referred to is a notable

instance of successful importunity, one which is eminently encouraging to

all who would pray successfully. It was a remarkable instance of

insistence and perseverance to ultimate victory, in the face of almost

insuperable obstacles and hindrances. But the woman surmounted them all

by heroic faith and persistent spirit that were as remarkable as they were

successful. Jesus had gone over into her country, “and would have no man

know it.” But she breaks through His purpose, violates His privacy,

attracts His attention, and pours out to Him a poignant appeal of need and

faith. Her heart was in her prayer.

At first, Jesus appears to pay no attention to her agony, and ignores her

cry for relief. He gives her neither eye, nor ear, nor word. Silence, deep and

chilling, greets her impassioned cry. But she is not turned aside, nor

disheartened. She holds on. The disciples, offended at her unseemly

clamor, intercede for her, but are silenced by the Lord’s declaring that the

woman is entirely outside the scope of His mission and His ministry.

But neither the failure of the disciples to gain her a hearing nor the

knowledge — despairing in its very nature — that she is barred from the

benefits of His mission, daunt her, and serve only to lend intensity and

increased boldness to her approach to Christ. She came closer, cutting her

prayer in twain, and falling at His feet, worshipping Him, and making her

daughter’s case her own cries, with pointed brevity — “Lord, help me!”

This last cry won her case; her daughter was healed in the self-same hour.

Hopeful, urgent, and unwearied, she stays near the Master, insisting and

praying until the answer is given. What a study in importunity, in

earnestness, in persistence, promoted and propelled under conditions

which would have disheartened any but an heroic, a constant soul.

In these parables of importunate praying, our Lord sets forth, for our

information and encouragement, the serious difficulties which stand in the

way of prayer. At the same time He teaches that importunity conquers all

untoward circumstances and gets to itself a victory over a whole host of

hindrances. He teaches, moreover, that an answer to prayer is conditional

upon the amount of faith that goes to the petition. To test this, He delays

the answer. The superficial pray-er subsides into silence, when the answer

is delayed. But the man of prayer hangs on, and on. The Lord recognizes

and honors his faith, and gives him a rich and abundant answer to his

faith-evidencing, importunate prayer.

12 PRAYER AND THE WORD OF GOD

GOD’S Word is a record of prayer — of praying men and their

achievements, of the Divine warrant of prayer and of the encouragement

given to those who pray. No one can read the instances, commands,

examples, multiform statements which concern themselves with prayer,

without realizing that the cause of God, and the success of His work in

this world is committed to prayer; that praying men have been God’s

vicegerents on earth; that prayerless men have never been used of Him.

A reverence for God’s holy Name is closely related to a high regard for His

Word. This hallowing of God’s Name; the ability to do His will on earth,

as it is done in heaven; the establishment and glory of God’s kingdom, are

as much involved in prayer, as when Jesus taught men the Universal

Prayer. That “men ought always to pray and not to faint,” is as

fundamental to God’s cause, today, as when Jesus Christ enshrined that

great truth in the immortal settings of the Parable of the Importunate

Widow.

As God’s house is called “the house of prayer,” because prayer is the

most important of its holy offices; so by the same token, the Bible may be

called the Book of Prayer. Prayer is the great theme and content of its

message to mankind.

God’s Word is the basis, as it is the directory of the prayer of faith. “Let

the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,” says St. Paul,

“teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual

songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

As this word of Christ dwelling in us richly is transmuted and assimilated,

it issues in praying. Faith is constructed of the Word and the Spirit, and

faith is the body and substance of prayer.

In many of its aspects, prayer is dependent upon the Word of God. Jesus

says:

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what

ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

The Word of God is the fulcrum upon which the lever of prayer is placed,

and by which things are mightily moved. God has committed Himself, His

purpose and His promise to prayer. His Word becomes the basis, the

inspiration of our praying, and there are circumstances under which, by

importunate prayer, we may obtain an addition, or an enlargement of His

promises. It is said of the old saints that they, “through faith obtained

promises.” There would seem to be in prayer the capacity for going even

beyond the Word, of getting even beyond His promise, into the very

presence of God, Himself.

Jacob wrestled, not so much with a promise, as with the Promiser. We

must take hold of the Promiser, lest the promise prove nugatory. Prayer

may well be defined as that force which vitalizes and energizes the Word

of God, by taking hold of God, Himself. By taking hold of the Promiser,

prayer reissues, and makes personal the promise. “There is none that

stirreth up himself to take hold of Me,” is God’s sad lament. “Let him

take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me,” is God’s

recipe for prayer.

By Scriptural warrant, prayer may be divided into the petition of faith and

that of submission. The prayer of faith is based on the written Word, for

“faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” It receives its

answer, inevitably — the very thing for which it prays.

The prayer of submission is without a definite word of promise, so to

speak, but takes hold of God with a lowly and contrite spirit, and asks and

pleads with Him, for that which the soul desires. Abraham had no definite

promise that God would spare Sodom. Moses had no definite promise

that God would spare Israel; on the contrary, there was the declaration of

His wrath, and of His purpose to destroy. But the devoted leader gained

his plea with God, when he interceded for the Israelites with incessant

prayers and many tears. Daniel had no definite promise that God would

reveal to him the meaning of the king’s dream, but he prayed specifically,

and God answered definitely.

The Word of God is made effectual and operative, by the process and

practice of prayer. The Word of the Lord came to Elijah, “Go show

thyself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.” Elijah showed himself

to Ahab; but the answer to his prayer did not come, until he had pressed

his fiery prayer upon the Lord seven times.

Paul had the definite promise from Christ, that he “would be delivered

from the people and the Gentiles,” but we find him exhorting the Romans

in the urgent and solemn manner concerning this very matter:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,

and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in

your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them

that do not believe in Judaea, and that my service which I have for

Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.”

The Word of God is a great help in prayer. If it be lodged and written in

our hearts, it will form an outflowing current of prayer, full and

irresistible. Promises, stored in the heart, are to be the fuel from which

prayer receives life and warmth, just as the coal, stored in the earth,

ministers to our comfort on stormy days and wintry nights. The Word of

God is the food, by which prayer is nourished and made strong. Prayer,

like man, cannot live by bread alone, “but by every word which

proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.”

Unless the vital forces of prayer are supplied by God’s Word, prayer,

though earnest, even vociferous, in its urgency, is, in reality, flabby, and

vapid, and void. The absence of vital force in praying, can be traced to the

absence of a constant supply of God’s Word, to repair the waste, and

renew the life. He who would learn to pray well, must first study God’s

Word, and store it in his memory and thought.

When we consult God’s Word, we find that no duty is more binding, more

exacting, than that of prayer. On the other hand, we discover that no

privilege is more exalted, no habit more richly owned of God. No promises

are more radiant, more abounding, more explicit, more often reiterated,

than those which are attached to prayer. “All things, whatsoever” are

received by prayer, because “all things whatsoever” are promised. There is

no limit to the provisions, included in the promises to prayer, and no

exclusion from its promises. “Every one that asketh, receiveth.” The word

of our Lord is to this all-embracing effect: “If ye shall ask anything in My

Name, I will do it.”

Here are some of the comprehensive, and exhaustive statements of the

Word of God about prayer, the things to be taken in by prayer, the strong

promise made in answer to prayer:

“Pray without ceasing;” “continue in prayer;” “continuing instant

in prayer;” “in everything by prayer, let your request be made

known unto God;” “pray always, pray and not faint;” “men

should pray everywhere;” “praying always, with all prayer and

supplication.”

What clear and strong statements are those which are put in the Divine

record, to furnish us with a sure basis of faith, and to urge, constrain and

encourage us to pray! How wide the range of prayer, as given us, in the

Divine Revelation! How these Scriptures incite us to seek the God of

prayer, with all our wants, with all our burdens!

In addition to these statements left on record for our encouragement, the

sacred pages teem with facts, examples, incidents, and observations,

stressing the importance and the absolute necessity of prayer, and putting

emphasis on its all- prevailing power.

The utmost reach and full benefit of the rich promises of the Word of God,

should humbly be received by us, and put to the test. The world will never

receive the full benefits of the Gospel until this be done. Neither Christian

experience nor Christian living will be what they ought to be till these

Divine promises have been fully tested by those who pray. By prayer, we

bring these promises of God’s holy will into the realm of the actual and

the real. Prayer is the philosopher’s stone which transmutes them into

gold.

If it be asked, what is to be done in order to render God’s promises real,

the answer is, that we must pray, until the words of the promise are

clothed upon with the rich raiment of fulfillment.

God’s promises are altogether too large to be mastered by desultory

praying. When we examine ourselves, all too often, we discover that our

praying does not rise to the demands of the situation; is so limited that it

is little more than a mere oasis amid the waste and desert of the world’s

sin. Who of us, in our praying, measures up to this promise of our Lord:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the

works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall

he do, because I go to My Father.”

How comprehensive, how far reaching, how all-embracing! How much is

here, for the glory of God, how much for the good of man! How much for

the manifestation of Christ’s enthroned power, how much for the reward

of abundant faith! And how great and gracious are the results which can be

made to accrue from the exercise of commensurate, believing prayer!

Look, for a moment, at another of God’s great promises, and discover how

we may be undergirded by the Word as we pray, and on what firm ground

we may stand on which to make our petitions to our God:

“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what

ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

In these comprehensive words, God turns Himself over to the will of His

people. When Christ becomes our all-in-all, prayer lays God’s treasures at

our feet. Primitive Christianity had an easy and practical solution of the

situation, and got all which God had to give. That simple and terse

solution is recorded in John’s First Epistle:

“Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His

commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in His

sight.”

Prayer, coupled with loving obedience, is the way to put God to the test,

and to make prayer answer all ends and all things. Prayer, joined to the

Word of God, hallows and makes sacred all God’s gifts. Prayer is not

simply to get things from God, but to make those things holy, which

already have been received from Him. It is not merely to get a blessing, but

also to be able to give a blessing. Prayer makes common things holy and

secular things, sacred. It receives things from God with thanksgiving and

hallows them with thankful hearts, and devoted service.

In the First Epistle to Timothy, Paul gives us these words:

“For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it

be received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified by the word of

God and prayer.”

That is a statement which gives a negative to mere asceticism. God’s good

gifts are to be holy, not only by God’s creative power, but, also, because

they are made holy to us by prayer. We receive them, appropriate them

and sanctify them by prayer.

Doing God’s will, and having His Word abiding in us, is an imperative of

effectual praying. But, it may be asked, how are we to know what God’s

will is? The answer is, by studying His Word, by hiding it in our hearts,

and by letting the Word dwell in us richly. “The entrance of Thy word,

giveth light.”

To know God’s will in prayer, we must be filled with God’s Spirit, who

maketh intercession for the saints, and in the saints, according to the will

of God. To be filled with God’s Spirit, to be filled with God’s Word, is to

know God’s will. It is to be put in such a frame of mind, to be found in

such a state of heart, as will enable us to read and interpret aright the

purposes of the Infinite. Such filling of the heart, with the Word and the

Spirit, gives us an insight into the will of the Father, and enables us to

rightly discern His will, and puts within us, a disposition of mind and

heart to make it the guide and compass of our lives.

Epaphras prayed that the Colossians might stand “perfect and complete in

all the will of God.” This is proof positive that, not only may we know

the will of God, but that we may know all the will of God. And not only

may we know all the will of God, but we may do all the will of God. We

may, moreover, do all the will of God, not occasionally, or by a mere

impulse, but with a settled habit of conduct. Still further, it shows us that

we may not only do the will of God externally, but from the heart, doing it

cheerfully, without reluctance, or secret disinclination, or any drawing or

holding back from the intimate presence of the Lord.

14 PRAYER AND THE HOUSE OF GOD

PRAYER stands related to places, times, occasions and circumstances. It

has to do with God and with everything which is related to God, and it has

an intimate and special relationship to His house. A church is a sacred

place, set apart from all unhallowed and secular uses, for the worship of

God. As worship is prayer, the house of God is a place set apart for

worship. It is no common place; it is where God dwells, where He meets

with His people, and He delights in the worship of His saints.

Prayer is always in place in the house of God. When prayer is a stranger

there, then it ceases to be God’s house at all. Our Lord put peculiar

emphasis upon what the Church was when He cast out the buyers and

sellers in the Temple, repeating the words from Isaiah, “It is written, My

house shall be called the house of prayer.” He makes prayer preeminent,

that which stands out above all else in the house of God. They, who

sidetrack prayer or seek to minify it, and give it a secondary place, pervert

the Church of God, and make it something less and other than it is

ordained to be.

Prayer is perfectly at home in the house of God. It is no stranger, no mere

guest; it belongs there. It has a peculiar affinity for the place, and has,

moreover, a Divine right there, being set, therein, by Divine appointment

and approval.

The inner chamber is a sacred place for personal worship. The house of

God is a holy place for united worship. The prayer-closet is for individual

prayer. The house of God is for mutual prayer, concerted prayer, united

prayer. Yet even in the house of God, there is the element of private

worship, since God’s people are to worship Him and pray to Him,

personally, even in public worship. The Church is for the united prayer of

kindred, yet individual believers.

The life, power and glory of the Church is prayer. The life of its members

is dependent on prayer and the presence of God is secured and retained by

prayer. The very place is made sacred by its ministry. Without it, the

Church is lifeless and powerless. Without it, even the building, itself, is

nothing, more or other, than any other structure. Prayer converts even the

bricks, and mortar, and lumber, into a sanctuary, a holy of holies, where

the Shekinah dwells. It separates it, in spirit and in purpose from all other

edifices. Prayer gives a peculiar sacredness to the building, sanctifies it,

sets it apart for God, conserves it from all common and mundane affairs.

With prayer, though the house of God might be supposed to lack

everything else, it becomes a Divine sanctuary. So the Tabernacle, moving

about from place to place, became the holy of holies, because prayer was

there. Without prayer the building may be costly, perfect in all its

appointments, beautiful for situation and attractive to the eye, but it

comes down to the human, with nothing Divine in it, and is on a level with

all other buildings.

Without prayer, a church is like a body without spirit; it is a dead,

inanimate thing. A church with prayer in it, has God in it. When prayer is

set aside, God is outlawed. When prayer becomes an unfamiliar exercise,

then God Himself is a stranger there.

As God’s house is a house of prayer, the Divine intention is that people

should leave their homes and go to meet Him in His own house. The

building is set apart for prayer especially, and as God has made special

promise to meet His people there, it is their duty to go there, and for that

specific end. Prayer should be the chief attraction for all spiritually minded

church-goers. While it is conceded that the preaching of the Word has an

important place in the house of God, yet prayer is its predominating,

distinguishing feature. Not that all other places are sinful, or evil, in

themselves or in their uses. But they are secular and human, having no

special conception of God in them. The Church is, essentially, religious

and Divine. The work belonging to other places is done without special

reference to God. He is not specifically recognized, nor called upon. In the

Church, however, God is acknowledged, and nothing is done without Him.

Prayer is the one distinguishing mark of the house of God. As prayer

distinguishes Christian from unchristian people, so prayer distinguishes

God’s house from all other houses. It is a place where faithful believers

meet with their Lord.

As God’s house is, preeminently, a house of prayer, prayer should enter

into and underlie everything that is undertaken there. Prayer be longs to

every sort of work appertaining to the Church of God. As God’s house is

a house where the business of praying is carried on, so is it a place where

the business of making praying people out of prayerless people is done.

The house of God is a Divine workshop, and there the work of prayer

goes on. Or the house of God is a Divine schoolhouse, in which the lesson

of prayer is taught; where men and women learn to pray, and where they

are graduated, in the school of prayer.

Any church calling itself the house of God, and failing to magnify prayer;

which does not put prayer in the forefront of its activities; which does not

teach the great lesson of prayer, should change its teaching to conform to

the Divine pattern or change the name of its building to something other

than a house of prayer.

On an earlier page, we made reference to the finding of the Book of the

Law of the Lord given to Moses. How long that book had been there, we

do not know. But when tidings of its discovery were carried to Josiah, he

rent his clothes and was greatly disturbed. He lamented the neglect of

God’s Word and saw, as a natural result, the iniquity which abounded

throughout the land.

And then, Josiah thought of God, and commanded Hilkiah, the priest, to

go and make inquiry of the Lord. Such neglect of the Word of the Law was

too serious a matter to be treated lightly, and God must be inquired of, and

repentance shown, by himself, and the nation:

“Go inquire of the Lord for me, and for them that are left in Israel

and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for

great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because

our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do after all that

is written in this book.”

But that was not all. Josiah was bent on promoting a revival of religion in

his kingdom, so we find him gathering all the elders of Jerusalem and Judah

together, for that purpose. When they had come together, the king went

into the house of the Lord, and himself read in all the words of the Book of

the Covenant that was found in the house of the Lord.

With this righteous king, God’s Word was of great importance. He

esteemed it at its proper worth, and counted a knowledge of it to be of

such grave importance, as to demand his consulting God in prayer about it,

and to warrant the gathering together of the notables of his kingdom, so

that they, together with himself, should be instructed out of God’s Book

concerning God’s Law.

When Ezra, returned from Babylon, was seeking the reconstruction of his

nation, the people, themselves, were alive to the situation, and, on one

occasion, the priests, Levites and people assembled themselves together as

one man before the water gate.

“And they spake unto Ezra the scribe, to bring the book of the law

of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the

priest brought the law before the congregation, both of men and

women, and all that could hear with understanding. And he read

therein before the street that was before the water gate from the

morning until midday; and the ears of all the people were attentive

unto the book of the law.”

This was Bible-reading Day in Judah — a real revival of Scripture-study.

The leaders read the law before the people, whose ears were keen to hear

what God had to say to them out of the Book of the Law. But it was not

only a Bible-reading day. It was a time when real preaching was done, as

the following passage indicates:

“So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly and gave the

sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”

Here then is the Scriptural definition of preaching. No better definition can

be given. To read the Word of God distinctly — to read it so that the

people could hear and understand the words read; not to mumble out the

words, nor read it in an undertone or with indistinctness, but boldly and

clearly — that was the method followed in Jerusalem, on this auspicious

day. Moreover: the sense of the words was made clear in the meeting held

before the water gate; the people were treated to a high type of expository

preaching. That was true preaching — preaching of a sort which is sorely

needed, today, in order that God’s Word may have due effect on the hearts

of the people. This meeting in Jerusalem surely contains a lesson which all

present-day preachers should learn and heed.

No one having any knowledge of the existing facts, will deny the

comparative lack of expository preaching in the pulpit effort of today.

And none, we should, at least, imagine, will do other than lament the lack.

Topical preaching, polemical preaching, historical preaching, and other

forms of sermonic output have, one supposes, their rightful and

opportune uses. But expository preaching — the prayerful expounding of

the Word of God is preaching that is preaching — pulpit effort par

excellence.

For its successful accomplishment, however, a preacher needs must be a

man of prayer. For every hour spent in his study-chair, he will have to

spend two upon his knees. For every hour he devotes to wrestling with an

obscure passage of Holy Writ, he must have two in the which to be found

wrestling with God. Prayer and preaching: preaching and prayer! They

cannot be separated. The ancient cry was: “To your tents, O Israel! “The

modern cry should be: “To your knees, O preachers, to your knees!”

 

Preacher And Prayer

PREACHER AND PRAYER

By

Edward McKendree (E. M.) Bounds

Introduction:

In this and page 2 on prayer we are providing some excerpts from 2 of Mr. Bounds’ books. We know that there are many good books on prayer but Mr. Bounds seems to be the best. We encourage you to buy his works, these excerpts come from the Ages Software system  electronic edition and we place them here for education and edification.

CHAPTER 1

We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods,

new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure

enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a

tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or

organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than

of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better

methods; God is looking for better men. “There was a man sent from God

whose name was John.” The dispensation that heralded and prepared the

way for Christ was bound up in that man John. “Unto us a child is born,

unto us a son is given.” The world’s salvation comes out of that cradled

Son. When Paul appeals to the personal character of the men who rooted

the gospel in the world, he solves the mystery of their success. The glory

and efficiency of the gospel is staked on the men who proclaim it.

When God declares that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the

whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is

perfect toward him,” he declares the necessity of men and his dependence

on them as a channel through which to exert his power upon the world.

This vital, urgent truth is one that this age of machinery is apt to forget.

The forgetting of it is as baneful on the work of God as would be the

striking of the sun from his sphere. Darkness, confusion, and death would

ensue.

What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new

organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost

can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does

not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on

machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of

prayer.

An eminent historian has said that the accidents of personal character have

more to do with the revolutions of nations than either philosophic

historians or democratic politicians will allow. This truth has its

application in full to the gospel of Christ, the character and conduct of the

followers of Christ — Christianize the world, transfigure nations and

individuals. Of the preachers of the gospel it is eminently true.

The character as well as the fortunes of the gospel is committed to the

preacher. He makes or mars the message from God to man. The preacher is

the golden pipe through which the divine oil flows. The pipe must not

only be golden, but open and flawless, that the oil may have a full,

unhindered, unwasted flow.

The man makes the preacher. God must make the man. The messenger is,

if possible, more than the message. The preacher is more than the sermon.

The preacher makes the sermon. As the life-giving milk from the mother’s

bosom is but the mother’s life, so all the preacher says is tinctured,

impregnated by what the preacher is. The treasure is in earthen vessels,

and the taste of the vessel impregnates and may discolor. The man, the

whole man, lies behind the sermon. Preaching is not the performance of an

hour. It is the outflow of a life. It takes twenty years to make a sermon,

because it takes twenty years to make the man. The true sermon is a thing

of life. The sermon grows because the man grows. The sermon is forceful

because the man is forceful. The Sermon is holy because the man is holy.

The sermon is full of the divine unction because the man is full of the

divine unction.

Paul termed it “My gospel;” not that he had degraded it by his personal

eccentricities or diverted it by selfish appropriation, but the gospel was

put into the heart and lifeblood of the man Paul, as a personal trust to be

executed by his Pauline traits, to be set aflame and empowered by the

fiery energy of his fiery soul. Paul’s sermons — what were they? Where

are they? Skeletons, scattered fragments, afloat on the sea of inspiration!

But the man Paul, greater than his sermons, lives forever, in full form,

feature and stature, with his molding hand on the Church. The preaching is

but a voice. The voice in silence dies, the text is forgotten, the sermon

fades from memory; the preacher lives.

The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men

give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the

spiritual character of the preacher. Under the Jewish dispensation the high

priest had inscribed in jeweled letters on a golden frontlet: “Holiness to the

Lord.” So every preacher in Christ’s ministry must be molded into and

mastered by this same holy motto. It is a crying shame for the Christian

ministry to fall lower in holiness of character and holiness of aim than the

Jewish priesthood. Jonathan Edwards said: “I went on with my eager

pursuit after more holiness and conformity to Christ. The heaven I desired

was a heaven of holiness.” The gospel of Christ does not move by popular

waves. It has no self-propagating power. It moves as the men who have

charge of it move. The preacher must impersonate the gospel. Its divine,

most distinctive features must be embodied in him.

The constraining power of love must be in the preacher as a projecting, eccentric,

an all commanding, self-oblivious force. The energy of self-denial must be his

being, his heart and blood and bones. He must go forth as a man among

men, clothed with humility, abiding in meekness, wise as a serpent,

harmless as a dove; the bonds of a servant with the spirit of a king, a king

in high, royal, independent bearing, with the simplicity and sweetness of a

child. The preacher must throw himself, with all the abandon of a perfect,

self-emptying faith and a self-consuming zeal, into his work for the

salvation of men. Hearty, heroic, compassionate, fearless martyrs must the

men be who take hold of and shape a generation for God. If they be timid

timeservers, place seekers, if they be men pleasers or men fearers, if their

faith has a weak hold on God or his Word, if their denial he broken by any

phase of self or the world, they cannot take hold of the Church nor the

world for God.

The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be

to himself. His most difficult, delicate, laborious, and thorough work must

he with himself. The training of the twelve was the great, difficult, and

enduring work of Christ. Preachers are not sermon makers, but men

makers and saint makers, and he only is well-trained for this business who

has made himself a man and a saint. It is not great talents nor great learning

nor great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in

faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God — men always preaching

by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of it. These can mold a

generation for God.

After this order, the early Christians were formed. Men they were of solid

mold, preachers after the heavenly type — heroic, stalwart, soldierly,

saintly. Preaching with them meant self-denying, self-crucifying, serious,

toilsome, martyr business. They applied themselves to it in a way that

told on their generation, and formed in its womb a generation yet unborn

for God. The preaching man is to be the praying man. Prayer is the

preacher’s mightiest weapon. An almighty force in itself, it gives life and

force to all.

The real sermon is made in the closet. The man — God’s man — is made

in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his

secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit,

his weightiest and sweetest messages were got when alone with God.

Prayer makes the man; prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the

pastor.

The pulpit of this day is weak in praying. The pride of learning is against

the dependent humility of prayer. Prayer is with the pulpit too often only

official — a performance for the routine of service. Prayer is not to the

modern pulpit the mighty force it was in Paul’s life or Paul’s ministry.

Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life

and ministry is weak as a factor in God’s work and is powerless to project

God’s cause in this world.

The preaching that kills may be, and often is, orthodox — dogmatically,

inviolably orthodox. We love orthodoxy. It is good. It is the best. It is the

clean, clear-cut teaching of God’s Word, the trophies won by truth in its

conflict with error, the levees which faith has raised against the desolating

floods of honest or reckless misbelief or unbelief; but orthodoxy, clear and

hard as crystal, suspicious and militant, may be but the letter well-shaped,

well-named, and well-learned, the letter which kills. Nothing is so dead as a

dead orthodoxy, too dead to speculate, too dead to think, to study, or to

pray.

CHAPTER 3

The preaching that kills may have insight and grasp of principles, may be

scholarly and critical in taste, may have every minutiae of the derivation

and grammar of the letter, may be able to trim the letter into its perfect

pattern, and illume it as Plato and Cicero may be illumined, may study it

as a lawyer studies his text-books to form his brief or to defend his case,

and yet be like a frost, a killing frost. Letter preaching may be eloquent,

enameled with poetry and rhetoric, sprinkled with prayer, spiced with

sensation, illumined by genius, and yet these be but the massive or chaste,

costly mountings, the rare and beautiful flowers which coffin the corpse.

The preaching which kills may he without scholarship, unmarked by any

freshness of thought or feeling, clothed in tasteless generalities or vapid

specialties, with style irregular, slovenly, savoring neither of closet nor of

study, graced neither by thought, expression, or prayer. Under such

preaching how wide and utter the desolation! how profound the spiritual

death!

This letter-preaching deals with the surface and shadow of things, and not

the things themselves. It does not penetrate the inner part. It has no deep

insight into, no strong grasp of, the hidden life of God’s Word. It is true to

the outside, but the outside is the hull which must be broken and

penetrated for the kernel. The letter may be dressed so as to attract and be

fashionable, but the attraction is not toward God nor is the fashion for

heaven. The failure is in the preacher. God has not made him. He has never

been in the hands of God like clay in the hands of the potter.

He has been busy about the sermon, its thought and finish, its drawing and impressive

forces; but the deep things of God have never been sought, studied,

fathomed, experienced by him. He has never stood before “the throne high

and lifted up,” never heard the seraphim song, never seen the vision nor

felt the rush of that awful holiness, and cried out in utter abandon and

despair under the sense of weakness and guilt, and had his life renewed, his

heart touched, purged, inflamed by the live coal from God’s altar.

His ministry may draw people to him, to the Church, to the form and

ceremony; but no true drawings to God, no sweet, holy, divine

communion induced. The Church has been frescoed but not edified,

pleased but not sanctified. Life is suppressed; a chill is on the summer air;

the soil is baked. The city of our God becomes the city of the dead; the

Church a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled;

worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching have helped sin, not

holiness; peopled hell, not heaven.

Preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer the preacher

creates death, and not life. The preacher who is feeble in prayer is feeble in

life-giving forces. The preacher who has retired prayer as a conspicuous

and largely prevailing element in his own character has shorn his preaching

of its distinctive life-giving power. Professional praying there is and will

be, but professional praying helps the preaching to its deadly work.

Professional praying chills and kills both preaching and praying. Much of

the lax devotion and lazy, irreverent attitudes in congregational praying are

attributable to professional praying in the pulpit. Long, discursive, dry,

and inane are the prayers in many pulpits. Without unction or heart, they

fall like a killing frost on all the graces of worship. Death-dealing prayers

they are. Every vestige of devotion has perished under their breath. The

deader they are the longer they grow. A plea for short praying, live

praying, real heart praying, praying by the Holy Spirit — direct, specific,

ardent, simple, unctuous in the pulpit — is in order. A school to teach

preachers how to pray, as God counts praying, would be more beneficial

to true piety, true worship, and true preaching than all theological schools.

Stop! Pause! Consider! Where are we? Preaching to kill? Praying to God!

the great God, the Maker of all worlds, the Judge of all men! What

reverence! what simplicity! what sincerity! what truth in the inward parts

is demanded! How real we must be! How hearty! Prayer to God the

noblest exercise, the loftiest effort of man, the most real thing! Shall we

not discard forever accursed preaching that kills and prayer that kills, and

do the real thing, the mightiest thing — prayerful praying, life-creating

preaching, bring the mightiest force to bear on heaven and earth and draw

on God’s exhaustless and open treasure for the need and beggary of man?

CHAPTER 10

Never was there greater need for saintly men and women; more imperative

still is the call for saintly, God-devoted preachers. The world moves with

gigantic strides. Satan has his hold and rule on the world, and labors to

make all its movements subserve his ends. Religion must do its best work,

present its most attractive and perfect models. By every means, modern

sainthood must he inspired by the loftiest ideals and by the largest

possibilities through the Spirit. Paul lived on his knees, that the Ephesian

Church might measure the heights, breadths, and depths of an

unmeasurable saintliness, and “be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Epaphras laid himself out with the exhaustive toil and strenuous conflict

of fervent prayer, that the Colossian Church might “stand perfect and

complete in all the will of God.” Everywhere, everything in apostolic

times was on the stretch that the people of God might each and “all come

in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a

perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” No

premium was given to dwarfs; no encouragement to an old babyhood. The

babies were to grow; the old, instead of feebleness and infirmities, were to

bear fruit in old age, and be fat and flourishing. The divinest thing in

religion is holy men and holy women.

No amount of money, genius, or culture can move things for God.

Holiness energizing the soul, the whole man aflame with love, with desire

for more faith, more prayer, more zeal, more consecration — this is the

secret of power. These we need and must have, and men must be the

incarnation of this God-inflamed devotedness. God’s advance has been

stayed, his cause crippled, his name dishonored for their lack. Genius

(though the loftiest and most gifted), education (though the most learned

and refined), position, dignity, place, honored names, high ecclesiastics

cannot move this chariot of our God. It is a fiery one, and fiery forces only

can move it. The genius of a Milton fails. The imperial strength of a Leo

fails. Brainerd’s spirit can move it. Brainerd’s spirit was on fire for God,

on fire for souls. Nothing earthly, worldly, selfish came in to abate in the

least the intensity of this all-impelling and all-consuming force and flame.

Prayer is the creator as well as the channel of devotion. The spirit of

devotion is the spirit of prayer. Prayer and devotion are united as soul and

body are united, as life and the heart are united. There is no real prayer

without devotion, no devotion without prayer. The preacher must be

surrendered to God in the holiest devotion. He is not a professional man,

his ministry is not a profession; it is a divine institution, a divine devotion.

He is devoted to God. His aim, aspirations, ambition are for God and to

God, and to such prayer is as essential as food is to life.

The preacher, above everything else, must be devoted to God. The

preacher’s relations to God are the insignia and credentials of his ministry.

These must be clear, conclusive, unmistakable. No common, surface type

of piety must be his. If he does not excel in grace, he does not excel at all.

If he does not preach by life, character, conduct, he does not preach at all.

If his piety be light, his preaching may be as soft and as sweet as music, as

gifted as Apollo, yet its weight will be a feather’s weight, visionary,

fleeting as the morning cloud or the early dew. Devotion to God — there is

no substitute for this in the preacher’s character and conduct. Devotion to

a Church, to opinions, to an organization to orthodoxy — these are paltry,

misleading, and vain when they become the source of inspiration, the

animus of a call. God must be the mainspring of the preacher’s effort, the

fountain and crown of all his toil. The name and honor of Jesus Christ, the

advance of his cause, must be all in all. The preacher must have no

inspiration but the name of Jesus Christ, no ambition but to have him

glorified, no toil but for him. Then prayer will be a source of his

illuminations, the means of perpetual advance, the gauge of his success.

The perpetual aim, the only ambition, the preacher can cherish is to have

God with him.

Never did the cause of God need perfect illustrations of the possibilities of

prayer more than in this age. No age, no person, will be ensamples of the

gospel power except the ages or persons of deep and earnest prayer. A

prayerless age will have but scant models of divine power.

Prayerless hearts will never rise to these Alpine heights. The age may be a better age

than the past, but there is an infinite distance between the betterment of an

age by the force of an advancing civilization and its betterment by the

increase of holiness and Christlikeness by the energy of prayer. The Jews

were much better when Christ came than in the ages before. It was the

golden age of their Pharisaic religion. Their golden religious age crucified

Christ. Never more praying, never less praying; never more sacrifices,

never less sacrifice; never less idolatry, never more idolatry; never more of

temple worship, never less of God worship; never more of lip service,

never less of heart service (God worshipped by lips whose hearts and

hands crucified God’s Son!); never more of churchgoers, never less of

saints.

It is prayer-force which makes saints. Holy characters are formed by the

power of real praying. The more of true saints, the more of praying; the

more of praying, the more of true saints.

CHAPTER 12

Prayer, with its manifold and many-sided forces, helps the mouth to utter

the truth in its fullness and freedom. The preacher is to be prayed for, the

preacher is made by prayer. The preacher’s mouth is to be prayed for; his

mouth is to be opened and filled by prayer. A holy mouth is made by

praying, by much praying; a brave mouth is made by praying, by much

praying. The Church and the world, God and heaven, owe much to Paul’s

mouth; Paul’s mouth owed its power to prayer. How manifold, illimitable,

valuable, and helpful prayer is to the preacher in so many ways, at so

many points, in every way! One great value is, it helps his heart.

Praying makes the preacher a heart preacher. Prayer puts the preacher’s

heart into the preacher’s sermon; prayer puts the preacher’s sermon into

the preacher’s heart.

The heart makes the preacher. Men of great hearts are great preachers.

Men of bad hearts may do a measure of good, but this is rare. The hireling

and the stranger may help the sheep at some points, but it is the good

shepherd with the good shepherd’s heart who will bless the sheep and

answer the full measure of the shepherd’s place.

We have emphasized sermon-preparation until we have lost sight of the

important thing to be prepared — the heart. A prepared heart is much

better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared

sermon.

Volumes have been written laying down the mechanics and taste of

sermon-making, until we have become possessed with the idea that this

scaffolding is the building. The young preacher has been taught to lay out

all his strength on the form, taste, and beauty of his sermon as a

mechanical and intellectual product. We have thereby cultivated a vicious

taste among the people and raised the clamor for talent instead of grace,

eloquence instead of piety, rhetoric instead of revelation, reputation and

brilliancy instead of holiness. By it we have lost the true idea of preaching,

lost preaching power, lost pungent conviction for sin, lost the rich

experience and elevated Christian character, lost the authority over

consciences and lives which always results from genuine preaching.

It would not do to say that preachers study too much. Some of them do

not study at all; others do not study enough. Numbers do not study the

right way to show themselves workmen approved of God. But our great

lack is not in head culture, but in heart culture; not lack of knowledge but

lack of holiness is our sad and telling defect — not that we know too

much, but that we do not meditate on God and his word and watch and

fast and pray enough. The heart is the great hindrance to our preaching.

Words pregnant with divine truth find in our hearts nonconductors;

arrested, they fall shorn and powerless.

Can ambition, that lusts after praise and place, preach the gospel of Him

who made himself of no reputation and took on Him the form of a

servant? Can the proud, the vain, the egotistical preach the gospel of him

who was meek and lowly? Can the bad-tempered, passionate, selfish,

hard, worldly man preach the system which teems with long-suffering,

self-denial, tenderness, which imperatively demands separation from

enmity and crucifixion to the world? Can the hireling official, heartless,

perfunctory, preach the gospel which demands the shepherd to give his

life for the sheep? Can the covetous man, who counts salary and money,

preach the gospel till he has gleaned his heart and can say in the spirit of

Christ and Paul in the words of Wesley:

“I count it dung and dross; I

trample it under my feet; I (yet not I, but the grace of God in me) esteem it

just as the mire of the streets, I desire it not, I seek it not?”

God’s revelation does not need the light of human genius, the polish

and strength of human culture , the brilliancy of human thought, the force

of human brains to adorn or enforce it; but it does demand the simplicity, the

docility, humility, and faith of a child’s heart.

It was this surrender and subordination of intellect and genius to the divine

and spiritual forces which made Paul peerless among the apostles. It was

this which gave Wesley his power and radicated his labors in the history

of humanity. This gave to Loyola the strength to arrest the retreating

forces of Catholicism.

Our great need is heart-preparation. Luther held it as an axiom: “He who

has prayed well has studied well.” We do not say that men are not to think

and use their intellects; but he will use his intellect best who cultivates his

heart most. We do not say that preachers should not be students; but we

do say that their great study should be the Bible, and he studies the Bible

best who has kept his heart with diligence. We do not say that the

preacher should not know men, but he will be the greater adept in human

nature who has fathomed the depths and intricacies of his own heart.

We do say that while the channel of preaching is the mind, its fountain is the

heart; you may broaden and deepen the channel, but if you do not look

well to the purity and depth of the fountain, you will have a dry or

polluted channel. We do say that almost any man of common intelligence

has sense enough to preach the gospel, but very few have grace enough to

do so. We do say that he who has struggled with his own heart and

conquered it; who has taught it humility, faith, love, truth, mercy,

sympathy, courage; who can pour the rich treasures of the heart thus

trained, through a manly intellect, all surcharged with the power of the

gospel on the consciences of his hearers — such a one will be the truest,

most successful preacher in the esteem of his Lord.

CHAPTER 15

Unction is that indefinable, indescribable something which an old,

renowned Scotch preacher describes thus: “There is sometimes somewhat

in preaching that cannot be ascribed either to matter or expression, and

cannot be described what it is, or from whence it cometh, but with a sweet

violence it pierceth into the heart and affections and comes immediately

from the Lord; but if there be any way to obtain such a thing, it is by the

heavenly disposition of the speaker.”

We call it unction. It is this unction which makes the word of God “quick

and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the

dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a

discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” It is this unction which

gives the words of the preacher such point, sharpness, and power, and

which creates such friction and stir in many a dead congregation. The same

truths have been told in the strictness of the letter, smooth as human oil

could make them: but no signs of life, not a pulse throb; all as peaceful as

the grave and as dead. The same preacher in the meanwhile receives a

baptism of this unction, the divine afflatus is on him, the letter of the

Word has been embellished and fired by this mysterious power, and the

throbbings of life begin — life which receives or life which resists. The

unction pervades and convicts the conscience and breaks the heart.

This divine unction is the feature which separates and distinguishes true

gospel preaching from all other methods of presenting the truth, and which

creates a wide spiritual chasm between the preacher who has it and the one

who has it not. It backs and impregnates revealed truth with all the energy

of God. Unction is simply putting God in his own word and on his own

preacher. By mighty and great prayerfulness and by continual

prayerfulness, it is all potential and personal to the preacher; it inspires

and clarifies his intellect, gives insight and grasp and projecting power; it

gives to the preacher heart power, which is greater than head power; and

tenderness, purity, force flow from the heart by it. Enlargement, freedom,

fullness of thought, directness and simplicity of utterance are the fruits of

this unction.

Often earnestness is mistaken for this unction. He who has the divine

unction will be earnest in the very spiritual nature of things, but there may

be a vast deal of earnestness without the least mixture of unction.

Earnestness and unction look alike from some points of view. Earnestness

may be readily and without detection substituted or mistaken for unction.

It requires a spiritual eye and a spiritual taste to discriminate.

Earnestness may be sincere, serious, ardent, and persevering. It goes at a

thing with good will, pursues it with perseverance, and urges it with ardor;

puts force in it. But all these forces do not rise higher than the mere

human. The man is in it — the whole man, with all that he has of will and

heart, of brain and genius, of planning and working and talking.

He has set himself to some purpose which has mastered him, and he pursues to

master it. There may be none of God in it. There may be little of God in it,

because there is so much of the man in it. He may present pleas in

advocacy of his earnest purpose which please or touch and move or

overwhelm with conviction of their importance; and in all this earnestness

may move along earthly ways, being propelled by human forces only, its

altar made by earthly hands and its fire kindled by earthly flames.

It is said of a rather famous preacher of gifts, whose construction of Scripture

was to his fancy or purpose, that he “grew very eloquent over his own

exegesis.” So men grow exceeding earnest over their own plans or

movements. Earnestness may be selfishness simulated.

What of unction? It is the indefinable in preaching which makes it

preaching. It is that which distinguishes and separates preaching from all

mere human addresses. It is the divine in preaching. It makes the preaching

sharp to those who need sharpness. It distills as the dew to those who

need to be refreshed. It is well described as:

“a two-edged sword

Of heavenly temper keen,

And double were the wounds it made

Where’er it glanced between.

‘Twas death to sin; ‘twas life

To all who mourned for sin.

It kindled and it silenced strife,

Made war and peace within.”

This unction comes to the preacher not in the study but in the closet. It is

heaven’s distillation in answer to prayer. It is the sweetest exhalation of

the Holy Spirit. It impregnates, suffuses, softens, percolates, cuts, and

soothes. It carries the Word like dynamite, like salt, like sugar; makes the

Word a soother, an arraigner, a revealer, a searcher; makes the hearer a

culprit or a saint, makes him weep like a child and live like a giant; opens

his heart and his purse as gently, yet as strongly as the spring opens the

leaves. This unction is not the gift of genius. It is not found in the halls of

learning. No eloquence can woo it. No industry can win it. No prelatical

hands can confer it. It is the gift of God — the signet set to his own

messengers. It is heaven’s knighthood given to the chosen true and brave

ones who have sought this anointed honor through many an hour of

tearful, wrestling prayer.

Earnestness is good and impressive; genius is gifted and great. Thought

kindles and inspires, but it takes a diviner endowment, a more powerful

energy than earnestness or genius or thought to break the chains of sin, to

win estranged and depraved hearts to God, to repair the breaches and

restore the Church to her old ways of purity and power. Nothing but this

holy unction can do this.

CHAPTER 18

Somehow the practice of praying in particular for the preacher has fallen

into disuse or become discounted. Occasionally have we heard the practice

arraigned as a disparagement of the ministry, being a public declaration by

those who do it of the inefficiency of the ministry. It offends the pride of

learning and self-sufficiency, perhaps, and these ought to be offended and

rebuked in a ministry that is so derelict to allow them to exist.

Prayer, to the preacher, is not simply the duty of his profession, a

privilege, but it is a necessity. Air is not more necessary to the lungs than

prayer is to the preacher. It is absolutely necessary for the preacher to

pray. It is an absolute necessity that the preacher be prayed for. These

two propositions are wedded into a union which ought never to know any

divorce: the preacher must pray; the preacher must be prayed for. It will

take all the praying he can do, and all the praying he can get done, to meet

the fearful responsibilities and gain the largest, truest success in his great

work. The true preacher, next to the cultivation of the spirit and fact of

prayer in himself, in their intensest form, covets with a great covetousness

the prayers of God’s people.

The holier a man is, the more does he estimate prayer; the clearer does he

see that God gives himself to the praying ones, and that the measure of

God’s revelation to the soul is the measure of the soul’s longing,

importunate prayer for God. Salvation never finds its way to a prayerless

heart. The Holy Spirit never abides in a prayerless spirit. Preaching never

edifies a prayerless soul. Christ knows nothing of prayerless Christians.

The gospel cannot be projected by a prayerless preacher. Gifts, talents,

education, eloquence, God’s call, cannot abate the demand of prayer, but

only intensify the necessity for the preacher to pray and to be prayed for.

The more the preacher’s eyes are opened to the nature, responsibility, and

difficulties in his work, the more will he see, and if he be a true preacher

the more will he feel, the necessity of prayer; not only the Increasing

demand to pray himself, but to call on others to help him by their prayers.

Paul is an illustration of this. If any man could project the gospel by dint

of personal force, by brain power, by culture, by personal grace, by God’s

apostolic commission, God’s extraordinary call, that man was Paul. That

the preacher must be a man given to prayer, Paul is an eminent example.

That the true apostolic preacher must have the prayers of other good

people to give to his ministry its full quota of success, Paul is a

preeminent example. He asks, he covets, he pleads in an impassioned way

for the help of all God’s saints. He knew that in the spiritual realm, as

elsewhere, in union there is strength; that the concentration and aggregation

of faith, desire, and prayer increased the volume of spiritual force until it

became overwhelming and irresistible in its power. Units of prayer

combined, like drops of water, make an ocean which defies resistance.

So Paul, with his clear and full apprehension of spiritual dynamics,

determined to make his ministry as impressive, as eternal, as irresistible as

the ocean, by gathering all the scattered units of prayer and precipitating

them on his ministry. May not the solution of Paul’s preeminence in

labors and results, and impress on the Church and the world, be found in

this fact that he was able to center on himself and his ministry more of

prayer than others? To his brethren at Rome he wrote:

“Now I beseech

you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the

Spirit, that ye strive together with me in prayers to God for me.”

To the Ephesians he says: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in

the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication

for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may

open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” To

the Colossians he emphasizes: “Withal praying also for us, that God

would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ,

for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest as I ought to

speak.” To the Thessalonians he says sharply, strongly:

“Brethren, pray for us.”

Paul calls on the Corinthian Church to help him:

“Ye also helping together by prayer for us.”

This was to be part of their work. They were

to lay to the helping hand of prayer. He in an additional and closing charge

to the Thessalonian Church about the importance and necessity of their

prayers says: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord

may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we

may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.” He impresses the

Philippians that all his trials and opposition can be made subservient to

the spread of the gospel by the efficiency of their prayers for him.

Philemon was to prepare a lodging for him, for through Philemon’s prayer

Paul was to be his guest.

Paul’s attitude on this question illustrates his humility and his deep insight

into the spiritual forces which project the gospel. More than this, it

teaches a lesson for all times, that if Paul was so dependent on the prayers

of God’s saints to give his ministry success, how much greater the

necessity that the prayers of God’s saints be centered on the ministry of

today!

Paul did not feel that this urgent plea for prayer was to lower his dignity,

lessen his influence, or depreciate his piety. What if it did? Let dignity go,

let influence be destroyed, let his reputation be marred — he must have

their prayers. Called, commissioned, chief of the Apostles as he was, all

his equipment was imperfect without the prayers of his people. He wrote

letters everywhere, urging them to pray for him. Do you pray for your

preacher? Do you pray for him in secret? Public prayers are of little worth

unless they are founded on or followed up by private praying. The

praying ones are to the preacher as Aaron and Hur were to Moses. They

hold up his hands and decide the issue that is so fiercely raging around

them.

The plea and purpose of the apostles were to put the Church to praying.

They did not ignore the grace of cheerful giving. They were not ignorant of

the place which religious activity and work occupied in the spiritual life;

but not one nor all of these, in apostolic estimate or urgency, could at all

compare in necessity and importance with prayer. The most sacred and

urgent pleas were used, the most fervid exhortations, the most

comprehensive and arousing words were uttered to enforce the all important

obligation and necessity of prayer.

“Put the saints everywhere to praying” is the burden of the apostolic

effort and the keynote of apostolic success. Jesus Christ had striven to do

this in the days of his personal ministry. As he was moved by infinite

compassion at the ripened fields of earth perishing for lack of laborers —

and pausing in his own praying — he tries to awaken the stupid

sensibilities of his disciples to the duty of prayer as he charges them,

“Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his

harvest.” “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought

always to pray and not to faint.”

CHAPTER 20

Only glimpses of the great importance of prayer could the apostles get

before Pentecost. But the Spirit coming and filling on Pentecost elevated

prayer to its vital and all-commanding position in the gospel of Christ.

The call now of prayer to every saint is the Spirit’s loudest and most

exigent call. Sainthood’s piety is made, refined, perfected, by prayer. The

gospel moves with slow and timid pace when the saints are not at their

prayers early and late and long.

Where are the Christly leaders who can teach the modern saints how to

pray and put them at it? Do we know we are raising up a prayerless set of

saints? Where are the apostolic leaders who can put God’s people to

praying? Let them come to the front and do the work, and it will be the

greatest work which can be done. An increase of educational facilities and a

great increase of money force will be the direst curse to religion if they are

not sanctified by more and better praying than we are doing. More praying

will not come as a matter of course. The campaign for the twentieth or

thirtieth century fund will not help our praying but hinder if we are not

careful, Nothing but a specific effort from a praying leadership will avail.

The chief ones must lead in the apostolic effort to radicate the vital

importance and fact of prayer in the heart and life of the Church. None but

praying leaders can have praying followers. Praying apostles will beget

praying saints. A praying pulpit will beget praying pews. We do greatly

need somebody who can set the saints to this business of praying. We are

not a generation of praying saints. Nonpraying saints are a beggarly gang

of saints who have neither the ardor nor the beauty nor the power of

saints. Who will restore this breach? The greatest will he be of reformers

and apostles, who can set the Church to praying.

We put it as our most sober judgment that the great need of the Church in

this and all ages is men of such commanding faith, of such unsullied

holiness, of such marked spiritual vigor and consuming zeal, that their

prayers, faith, lives, and ministry will be of such a radical and aggressive

form as to work spiritual revolutions which will form eras in individual

and Church life.

We do not mean men who get up sensational stirs by novel devices, nor

those who attract by a pleasing entertainment; but men who can stir

things, and work revolutions by the preaching of God’s Word and by the

power of the Holy Ghost, revolutions which change the whole current of

things.

Natural ability and educational advantages do not figure as factors in this

matter; but capacity for faith, the ability to pray, the power of thorough

consecration, the ability of self-littleness, an absolute losing of one’s self

in God’s glory, and an ever-present and insatiable yearning and seeking

after all the fullness of God — men who can set the Church ablaze for

God; not in a noisy, showy way, but with an intense and quiet heat that

melts and moves everything for God.

God can work wonders if he can get a suitable man. Men can work

wonders if they can get God to lead them. The full endowment of the

spirit that turned the world upside down would be eminently useful in

these latter days. Men who can stir things mightily for God, whose

spiritual revolutions change the whole aspect of things, are the universal

need of the Church.

The Church has never been without these men; they adorn its history;

they are the standing miracles of the divinity of the Church; their example

and history are an unfailing inspiration and blessing. An increase in their

number and power should be our prayer.

That which has been done in spiritual matters can be done again, and be

better done. This was Christ’s view. He said: “Verily, verily, I say unto

you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall be do also; and

greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” The

past has not exhausted the possibilities nor the demands for doing great

things for God. The Church that is dependent on its past history for its

miracles of power and grace is a fallen Church.

God wants elect men — men out of whom self and the world have gone by

a severe crucifixion, by a bankruptcy which has so totally ruined self and

the world that there is neither hope nor desire of recovery; men who by

this insolvency and crucifixion have turned toward God perfect hearts. Let

us pray ardently that God’s promise to prayer may be more than realized.

 

613 Laws

The 613 Old Testament Commandments

The following information comes from WILLMINGTON’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE by Dr. H. L. Willmington TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC. Wheaton, Illinois and are placed here for research and edification purposes only

The total number of the biblical commandments (precepts and prohibitions) is given in rabbinic tradition as 613. It is held that all 613 were revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai, and that they fall into two classifications. 1.    Mandatory laws—248 in number, corresponding to the limbs of the human body (divided into eighteen sections). 2.    Prohibition laws—365 in number, equal to the solar days in a year (divided into thirteen sections).

The Mandatory Commandments

God

1.    One must believe that God exists (Ex. 20:2).

2.    Acknowledge his unity (Deut. 6:4).

3.    Love God (Deut. 6:5).

4.    Fear God (Deut. 6:13).

5.    Serve God (Ex. 23:25; Deut. 11:13).

6.    Cleave to God (Deut. 10:20).

7.    Swear only by his name (Deut. 10:20).

8.    Imitate God (Deut. 28:9).

9.    Sanctify God’s name (Lev. 22:32).

Torah

10.    The shema must be recited each morning and evening (Deut. 6:7).

11.    Study the Torah and teach it to others (Deut. 6:7).

12.    The Tefillin must be bound on one’s head (Deut. 6:8).

13.    It should be also bound on one’s arm (Deut. 6:8).

14.    A zizit is to be made for the garments (Num. 15:38).

15.    A mezuzah is to be fixed on the door (Deut. 6:9).

16.    The people are to assemble every seventh month to hear the Torah read (Deut. 31:12).

17.    The king must write a special copy of the Torah for himself (Deut. 17:18).

18.    Each Jew should have a Torah scroll for himself (Deut. 31:19).

19.    God is to be praised after meals (Deut. 8:10).

Temple and the Priest

20.    The Jews should build a Temple (Ex. 25:8).

21.    They should respect it (Lev. 19:30).

22.    It must be guarded at all times (Num. 18:4).

23.    The Levites should perform their special duties in it (Num. 18:23).

24.    Before entering the Temple or participating in its service, the priests must wash their hands and feet (Ex. 30:19).

25.    The priests must light the candelabrum daily (Ex. 27:20, 21).

26.    The priests must bless Israel (Num. 6:23).

27.    They must set the shewbread and frankincense before the altar (Ex. 25:30).

28.    The incense must be burned twice daily on the golden altar (Ex. 30:7).

29.    Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually (Lev. 6:13).

30.    The ashes are to be removed daily (Lev. 6:10, 11).

31.    Ritually unclean persons must be kept out of the Temple (Num. 5:2).

32.    Israel is to honor its priests (Lev. 21:8).

33.    The priests must be dressed in special priestly raiment (Ex. 28:2).

34.    The ark is to be carried on the shoulders of the priests (Num. 7:9).

35.    The oil used in anointing must be prepared according to a special formula (Ex. 30:31). 3

6.    The priestly families should officiate in rotation (Deut. 18:6-8).

37.    In honor of certain dead close relatives, the priests should make themselves ritually unclean (Lev. 21:2, 3).

38.    The high priest may marry only a virgin (Lev. 21:13).

Sacrifices

39.    The tamid sacrifice must be offered twice daily (Num. 28:3).

40.    The high priest must also offer a meal offering twice daily (Lev. 6:13).

41.    An additional sacrifice (musaf) should be offered every Sabbath (Num. 28:9).

42.    One shall also be offered on the first of every month (Num. 28:11).

43.    A musaf is to be offered on each of the seven days of Passover (Lev. 23:36).

44.    On the second day of Passover a meal offering of the first barley must also be brought (Lev. 23:10).

45.    On Shavuot a musaf must be offered (Num. 28:26, 27).

46.    Two loaves of bread must be offered as a wave offering (Lev. 23:17).

47.    An additional sacrifice must be made on Rosh Ha-Shanah (Num. 29:1, 2).

48.    Another offering must be made on the day of atonement (Num. 29:7, 8).

49.    On this day the avodah must also be performed (Lev. 16).

50.    On every day of the festival of Sukkot a musaf must be brought (Num. 29:13).

51.    It is to be brought also on the eighth day thereof (Num. 29:36).

52.    Every male Jew should make pilgrimage to the Temple three times a year (Ex. 23:14).

53.    He must appear there during the three pilgrim festivals (Ex. 34:23; Deut. 16:16).

54.    One should rejoice on the festivals (Deut. 16:14).

55.    On the fourteenth of Nisan one should slaughter the paschal lamb (Ex. 12:6).

56.    The lamb is then to be roasted and eaten on the night of the fifteenth (Ex. 12:8).

57.    Those who were ritually impure in Nisan should slaughter the paschal lamb on the fourteenth of Lyyar (Num. 9:11).

58.    It should then be eaten with mazzah and bitter herbs (Ex. 12:8; Num. 9:11).

59.    Trumpets should be sounded when the festive sacrifices are brought, and also in times of tribulation (Num. 10:10).

60.    Cattle to be sacrificed must be at least eight days old (Lev. 22:27).

61.    They must also be without blemish (Lev. 22:21).

62.    All offerings must be salted (Lev. 2:13).

63.    It is a mitzvah to perform the ritual of the burnt offering (Lev. 1:2).

64.    This is also true with the sin offering (Lev. 6:18).

65.    This is also true with the guilt offering (Lev. 7:1).

66.    This is also true with the peace offering (Lev. 3:1).

67.    This is also true with the meal offering (Lev. 2:1; 6:7).

68.    Should the Sanhedrin err in a decision, its members must bring a sin offering (Lev. 4:13).

69.    This offering must also be brought by a person who has unwittingly transgressed a karet (Lev. 4:27).

70.    When in doubt as to whether one has transgressed such a prohibition, a “suspensive” guilt offering must be brought (Lev. 5:17, 18).

71.    For stealing or swearing falsely and for other sins of like nature, a guilt offering must be brought (Lev. 5:15; 19:20, 21; 21-25).

72.    In special circumstances the sin offering can be according to one’s means (Lev. 5:1-11).

73.    One must confess one’s sins before God and repent for them (Num. 5:6, 7).

74.    A man who has a seminal issue must bring a sacrifice (Lev. 15:13-15).

75.    A woman who has an issue must bring a sacrifice (Lev. 15:28, 29).

76.    A woman must also bring a sacrifice after childbirth (Lev. 12:6).

77.    A leper must bring a sacrifice after he has been cleansed (Lev. 14:10). 78.    One must tithe one’s cattle (Lev. 27:32).

79.    The firstborn of clean (permitted) cattle are holy and must be sacrificed (Ex. 13:2).

80.    The firstborn of man must be redeemed (Ex. 22:28; Num. 18:15).

81.    The firstling of the ass must be redeemed (Ex. 34:20).

82.    If not, its neck is to be broken (Ex. 13:13).

83.    Animals set aside as offerings must be brought to Jerusalem without delay (Deut. 12:5, 6).

84.    They may be sacrificed only in the Temple (Deut. 12:14).

85.    Offerings from outside the land of Israel may also be brought to the Temple (Deut. 12:26).

86.    Sanctified animals which have become blemished must be redeemed (Deut. 12:15).

87.    A beast exchanged for an offering is also holy (Lev. 27:33).

88.    The priests should eat the remainder of the meal offering (Lev. 6:9).

89.    They also are to eat of the flesh of sin and guilt offerings (Ex. 29:33).

90.    But consecrated flesh which has become ritually unclean must be burned (Lev. 7:19).

91.    Also, that flesh not eaten within its appointed time must be burned (Lev. 7:17).

Vows

92.    A Nazarite must let his hair grow during the period of his separation (Num. 6:5).

93.    When that period is over he must shave his head and bring his sacrifice (Num. 6:18).

94.    A man must honor his vows and his oaths (Deut. 23:24).

95.    These can only be annulled in accordance with the law (Num. 30:3).

Ritual Purity

96.    Anyone who touches a carcass becomes ritually unclean (Lev. 11:8, 24).

97.    Anyone who touches one of the eight species of reptiles becomes ritually unclean (Lev. 11:29-31).

98.    Food becomes unclean by coming into contact with a ritually unclean object (Lev. 11:34).

99.    Menstruous women are ritually impure (Lev. 15:19).

100.    After childbirth women are ritually impure for seven days (Lev. 12:2).

101.    A leper is ritually unclean (Lev. 13:3).

102.    A leprous garment is ritually unclean (Lev. 13:51).

103.    A leprous house is unclean (Lev. 14:44).

104.    A man having a running issue is unclean (Lev. 15:2).

105.    Semen is unclean (Lev. 15:16).

106.    A woman suffering from a running issue is unclean (Lev. 15:19).

107.    A human corpse is unclean (Num. 19:14).

108.    The purification water purifies the unclean, but it makes the clean ritually impure (Num. 19:13, 21).

109.    It is a mitzvah to become ritually clean by ritual immersion (Lev. 15:16).

110.    To become cleansed of leprosy one must follow the specified procedures (Lev. 14:2).

111.    He must shave off all of his hair (Lev. 14:9).

112.    Until cleansed, the leper must be bareheaded with clothing in disarray so as to be easily distinguishable (Lev. 13:45).

113.    The ashes of the red heifer are to be used in the process of ritual purification (Num. 19:2-9).

Donations to the Temple

114.    If a person undertakes to give his own value to the Temple he must do so (Lev. 27:2-8).

115.    If a man declares an unclean beast as a donation to the Temple he must give the animal’s value in money as fixed by the priest (Lev. 27:11, 12).

116.    This is true concerning a house (Lev. 27:14). 117.    This is true concerning a field (Lev. 27:16, 22, 23).

118.    If one unwittingly derives benefits from Temple property, full restitution plus a fifth must be made (Lev. 5:16).

119.    The fruit of the fourth year’s growth of trees is holy and may be eaten only in Jerusalem (Lev. 19:24).

120.    In reaping a field one must leave the corners for the poor (Lev. 19:9). 121.    The gleanings also must be left (Lev. 19:9).

122.    The forgotten sheaves must also be left (Deut. 24:19).

123.    The misformed bunches of grapes must also be left (Lev. 19:10).

124.    The gleanings of the grapes must also be left (Lev. 19:10).

125.    The firstfruits must be separated and brought to the Temple (Ex. 23:19).

126.    The great heave offering (terumah) must be separated and given to the priest (Deut. 18:4).

127.    One must give one tenth of his produce to the Levites (Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:24).

128.    A second tithe is to be separated and eaten only in Jerusalem (Deut. 14:22).

129.    The Levites must give a tenth of their tithe to the priests (Num. 18:26).

130.    In the third and sixth years of the seven-year cycle one was to separate a tithe for the poor instead of the second tithe (Deut. 14:28).

131.    A declaration was to be recited when separating the various tithes (Deut. 26:13).

132.    This was also required when bringing the firstfruits to the Temple (Deut. 26:5).

133.    The first portion of the dough must be given to the priest (Num. 15:20).

The Sabbatical Year

134.    In the seventh year everything that grows is ownerless and available to all (Ex. 23:11).

135.    The fields were to be fallow and the ground was not to be tilled (Ex. 34:21).

136.    The jubilee year (fiftieth) was to be sanctified (Lev. 25:10).

137.    On the day of atonement the shafar was to be sounded and all Hebrew slaves set free (Lev. 25:9).

138.    In the jubilee year all land was to be returned to its ancestral owners (Lev. 25:24).

139.    In a walled city the seller had the right to buy back a house within a year of the sale (Lev. 25:29, 30).

140.    Starting from entry into the land of Israel, the years of the jubilee must be counted and announced yearly and septennially (Lev. 25:8).

141.    In the seventh year all debts are annulled (Deut. 15:3).

142.    However, one could collect upon a debt owed by a stranger (Deut. 15:3).

Concerning Animals for Consumption

143.    A priest must receive his share of a slaughtered animal (Deut. 18:3).

144.    He also is to receive the first of the fleece (Deut. 18:4).

145.    A herem (special vow) must distinguish between that which belongs to the Temple and that which goes to the priests (Lev. 27:21, 28).

146.    To be fit for consumption, beast and fowl must be slaughtered according to the law (Deut. 12:21).

147.    If they are not of a domesticated species, their blood must be covered with earth after slaughter (Lev. 17:13).

148.    The parent bird was to be set free when taking the nest (Deut. 22:7).

149.    Beasts to be examined to see if they were permitted for consumption (Lev. 11:2).

150.    The same was true for fowls (Deut. 14:11).

151.    The same was true for locusts (Lev. 11:21).

152.    The same was true for fish (Lev. 11:9).

153.    The Sanhedrin was to sanctify the first day of every month and reckon the years and the seasons (Ex. 12:2; Deut. 16:1).

Festivals

154.    One was to rest on the Sabbath (Ex. 23:12).

155.    This day was to be declared holy at its onset and termination (Ex. 20:8).

156.    On the fourteenth of Nisan all leaven was to be removed from each household (Ex. 12:15).

157.    On the fifteenth of Nisan the Exodus account must be related (Ex. 13:8).

158.    During the fifteenth the mazzah is to be eaten (Ex. 12:18).

159.    On the first day of Passover one must rest (Ex. 12:16).

160.    On the seventh day of Passover one must also rest (Ex. 12:16).

161.    Starting from the day of the first sheaf (sixteenth of Nisan) one shall count forty-nine days (Lev. 23:35).

162.    One was to rest on the Shavvot (Lev. 23).

163.    One was to rest on Rosh Ha-Shanah (Lev. 23:24).

164.    On the day of atonement one must fast (Lev. 16:29).

165.    On the day of atonement one must rest (Lev. 16:29, 31).

166.    One must rest on the first day of Sukkot (Lev. 23:35).

167.    One must rest on the eighth day of Sukkot (Lev. 23:36).

168.    During the festival of Sukkot, Israel was to dwell in booths (Lev. 23:42).

169.    Four kinds of trees were to be included in the booth construction (Lev. 23:40).

170.    On Rosh Ha-Shanah the shofar was to be sounded (Num. 29:1).

Community

171.    Every male was to give half a shekel to the Temple annually (Ex. 30:12, 13).

172.    A prophet was to be obeyed (Deut. 18:15).

173.    A king was to be appointed (Deut. 17:15).

174.    The Sanhedrin was to be obeyed (Deut. 17:11).

175.    In case of division, the majority opinion would prevail (Ex. 23:2).

176.    Judges and officials shall be appointed in every town (Deut. 16:18).

177.    They shall judge the people impartially (Lev. 19:15).

178.    Whoever is aware of evidence must come to the court to testify (Lev. 5:1).

179.    Witnesses shall be examined thoroughly (Deut. 13:15).

180.    False witnesses shall have done to them what they intended to do to the accused (Deut. 19:19).

181.    Each unsolved murder requires the sacrifice of a red heifer (Deut. 21:4).

182.    Six cities of refuge should be established (Deut. 19:3).

183.    The Levites shall be given cities to live in (Num. 35:2).

184.    A fence should be built around one’s roof to protect others from potential hazards (Deut. 22:8).

Idolatry

185.    Idolatry and its appurtenances must be destroyed (Deut. 7:5; 12:2).

186.    A city which has been perverted must be treated according to the law (Deut. 13:17).

187.    The seven Canaanite nations were to be destroyed (Deut. 20:17).

188.    The memory of Amalek was to be blotted out (Deut. 25:19).

189.    The deeds of Amalek were to be blotted out (Deut. 25:17).

War

190.    All regulations concerning war were to be observed (Deut. 20:11, 12).

191.    A priest was to be appointed for special duties in times of war (Deut. 20:2).

192.    The military camp was to be kept in a sanitary condition (Deut. 23:14, 15).

193.    Each soldier was to be equipped with the necessary implements to assure this (Deut. 23:14).

Social

194.    Stolen property must be restored to its owners (Lev. 6:4).

195.    Give charity to the poor (Lev. 25:35, 36; Deut. 15:8).

196.    When a Hebrew slave goes free, the owner must give him gifts (Deut. 15:14).

197.    The poor were to receive loans without interest (Ex. 22:24).

198.    A loan with interest was permitted to foreigners (Deut. 23:21).

199.    Restore a pledge to its owner if he needs it (Ex. 22:25; Deut. 24:13).

200.    Pay the worker his wages on time (Deut. 24:15).

201.    He is also to be permitted to eat of the produce with which he is working (Deut. 23:24, 25).

202.    Help must be given to unload an animal when necessary (Ex. 23:5).

203.    Help must be given to load man or beast when necessary (Deut. 22:4).

204.    Lost property must be restored to its owner (Ex. 23:4; Deut. 22:1).

205.    It is required to reprove the sinner (Lev. 19:17).

206.    It is required to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev. 19:18).

207.    One must also love the proselyte (Deut. 10:19).

208.    Weights and measures must be accurate (Lev. 19:36).

Family

209.    Respect the wise (Lev. 19:32).

210.    Honor one’s parents (Ex. 20:12).

211.    Fear one’s parents (Lev. 19:3).

212.    One should marry to perpetuate the human race (Gen. 1:28).

213.    Marriage is to be governed by the law (Deut. 24:1).

214.    A bridegroom is to rejoice with his bride for one year (Deut. 24:5).

215.    Male children must be circumcised (Gen. 17:10; Lev. 12:3).

216.    If a man dies childless his brother should marry his widow (Deut. 25:5).

217.    If not, he must then release her (halizah) (Deut. 25:9).

218.    He who violates a virgin must marry her and may never divorce her (Deut. 22:29).

219.    If a man unjustly accuses his wife of premarital promiscuity he shall be flogged, and may never divorce her (Deut. 22:18, 19).

220.    The seducer must be punished according to the law (Ex. 22:15-23).

221.    The female captive must be treated in accordance with her special regulations (Deut. 21:11).

222.    Divorce could be executed only by means of a written document (Deut. 24:1).

223.    A woman suspected of adultery had to submit to the required test (Num. 5:15-27).

Judicial

224.    As required by the law, the punishment of flogging must be administered (Deut. 25:2).

225.    The one guilty of unwitting homicide must be exiled (Num. 35:25).

226.    Capital punishment may be by the sword (Ex. 21:20).

227.    It may also be by strangulation (Ex. 21:16).

228.    It may also be by fire (Lev. 20:14).

229.    It may also be by stoning (Deut. 22:24).

230.    In some cases the body of the executed shall be hanged (Deut. 21:22).

231.    In this case the body must be buried on the same day (Deut. 21:23).

Slaves

232.    Hebrew slaves must be treated according to the special laws for them (Ex. 21:2).

233.    The master should marry his Hebrew maidservant (Ex. 21:8).

234.    If not, he must redeem her (Ex. 21:8).

235.    The alien slave must be treated according to the regulations applying to him (Lev. 25:46).

Torts

236.    The applicable law must be administered in the case of injury caused by a person (Ex. 21:18).

237.    This is true if injury is caused by an animal (Ex. 21:28).

238.    This is true if injury is caused by a pit (Ex. 21:33, 34).

239.    Thieves must be punished (Ex. 21:36–22:3).

240.    Judgment must be rendered in cases of trespass by cattle (Ex. 22:4).

241.    This is true also in cases of arson (Ex. 22:5).

242.    This is true also in cases of embezzlement by an unpaid guardian (Ex. 22:6-8).

243.    This is also true in claims against a paid guardian (Ex. 22:9-12).

244.    This is also true in claims against a hirer or a borrower (Ex. 22:13).

245.    This is also true in disputes arising out of sales (Lev. 25:14).

246.    This is also true concerning inheritance disputes (Ex. 22:8).

247.    This is true in all other matters (Deut. 25:12).

248.    The persecuted are to be rescued even if it means killing the oppressor (Num. 27:8).

The Prohibition Commandments

 

Idolatry and Related Practices

1.    One must not believe in any but the one true God (Ex. 20:3).

2.    Do not make images for yourself (Ex. 20:4).

3.    Do not make images for others to worship (Lev. 19:4).

4.    Do not make images for any purpose (Ex. 20:20).

5.    Do not bow down to any image (Ex. 20:5).

6.    Do not serve any image (Ex. 20:5).

7.    Do not sacrifice children to Molech (Lev. 18:21).

8.    Do not practice necromancy (Lev. 19:31).

9.    Do not resort to familiar spirits (Lev. 19:31).

10.    Do not take the mythology of idolatry seriously (Lev. 19:4).

11.    Do not construct a pillar even for the worship of God (Deut. 16:22).

12.    Do not construct a dais for the same purpose (Lev. 20:1).

13.    Do not plant trees in the Temple (Deut. 16:21).

14.    Do not swear by idols or instigate an idolater to do so (Ex. 23:13).

15.    Do not encourage idol worship even by non-Jews (Ex. 23:13).

16.    Do not encourage Jews to worship idols (Deut. 13:12).

17.    Do not listen to anyone who disseminates idolatry (Deut. 13:8).

18.    Do not withhold from hating him (Deut. 13:9).

19.    Do not pity such a person (Deut. 13:9).

20.    Do not defend such a person (Deut. 13:9).

21.    Do not attempt to conceal his crime (Deut. 13:9).

22.    It is forbidden to derive any benefit from the ornaments of idols (Deut. 7:25).

23.    Do not rebuild destroyed idols (Deut. 13:17).

24.    Do not enjoy any benefit from its wealth (Deut. 13:18).

25.    Do not use anything connected with idols or idolatry (Deut. 7:26).

26.    It is forbidden to prophesy in the name of idols (Deut. 18:20).

27.    It is forbidden to prophesy falsely in the name of God (Deut. 18:20).

28.    Do not listen to the one who prophesies for idols (Deut. 13:3, 4).

29.    Do not fear the false prophet nor hinder his execution by death (Deut. 18:22).

30.    Do not imitate the ways of idolaters or practice their customs (Lev. 20:23).

31.    Do not practice their customs (Lev. 19:26).

32.    Do not practice their soothsaying (Deut. 18:10).

33.    Do not practice their enchanting (Deut. 18:10, 11).

34.    Do not practice their sorcery (Deut. 18:10, 11).

35.    Do not practice their charming (Deut. 18:10, 11).

36.    Do not imitate their consulting of ghosts (Deut. 18:10, 11).

37.    Do not imitate their speaking to familiar spirits (Deut. 18:10, 11).

38.    Do not imitate their necromancy (Deut. 18:10, 11).

39.    Women are not to wear male clothing (Deut. 22:5).

40.    Men are not to wear female clothing (Deut. 22:5).

41.    Do not tattoo yourself in the manner of the idolaters (Lev. 19:28).

42.    Do not wear garments made of both wool and linen (Deut. 22:11).

43.    Do not shave the sides of your head (Lev. 19:27).

44.    Do not shave your beard (Lev. 19:27).

45.    Do not lacerate yourself over your dead (Lev. 19:28; Deut. 14:1; 16:1).

Prohibitions Resulting from Historical Events

46.    It is forbidden to return to Egypt and dwell there permanently (Deut. 17:16).

47.    Do not indulge in impure thoughts or sights (Num. 15:39).

48.    Do not make a pact with the seven Canaanite nations (Ex. 23:32).

49.    Do not save the life of any of them (Deut. 20:16).

50.    Do not show mercy to idolaters (Deut. 7:2). 51.    Do not permit them to dwell in Israel (Ex. 23:33).

52.    Do not intermarry with them (Deut. 7:3).

53.    A Jewess may not marry an Ammonite or Moabite even if he converts to Judaism (Deut. 23:4).

54.    One should not hate a descendant of Esau because of his genealogy (Deut. 23:8).

55.    One should not hate an Egyptian because of his genealogy (Deut. 23:8).

56.    Do not make peace with the Ammonite or Moabite nations (Deut. 23:7).

57.    Fruit trees are forbidden to be destroyed even in times of war (Deut. 20:19).

58.    Do not fear your enemy (Deut. 7:21).

59.    Do not forget the evil done by Amalek (Deut. 25:19).

Blasphemy

60.    Do not blaspheme the holy name (Lev. 24:16).

61.    Do not break an oath made by his holy name (Lev. 19:12).

62.    Do not take God’s name in vain (Ex. 20:7).

63.    Do not profane it (Lev. 22:32).

64.    Do not try the Lord God (Deut. 6:16).

65.    Do not erase God’s name from the holy texts or destroy institutions devoted to his worship (Deut. 12:4).

66.    Do not allow the body of one hanged to remain so overnight (Deut. 21:23).

Temple

67.    Be not lax in guarding the Temple. (Num. 18:5).

68.    The high priest must not enter the Temple indiscriminately (Lev. 16:2).

69.    A priest with a physical blemish may not enter there at all (Lev. 21:23).

70.    He cannot serve there even if the blemish is of a temporary nature (Lev. 21:17).

71.    He may not participate in the service there until it has passed (Lev. 21:18).

72.    The Levites and the priests must not interchange in their functions (Num. 18:3).

73.    Intoxicated persons may not enter the sanctuary or teach the law (Lev. 10:9-11).

74.    It is forbidden for non-priests to serve in the Temple (Num. 18:4).

75.    This is also true for unclean priests (Lev. 22:2).

76.    This is also true for priests who have performed the necessary ablution but are still within the time limit of their uncleanness (Lev. 21:6).

77.    No unclean person may enter the Temple (Num. 5:3).

78.    No unclean person may enter the Temple mount (Deut. 23:11).

79.    The altar must not be made of hewn stones (Ex. 20:25).

80.    The ascent leading to it must not be by steps (Ex. 20:26).

81.    The fire on it may not be extinguished (Lev. 6:6).

82.    Nothing but the specified incense may be burned on the golden altar (Ex. 30:9).

83.    Regular oil cannot be manufactured with the same ingredients as that of anointing oil (Ex. 30:32).

84.    Anointing oil cannot be misused (Ex. 30:32).

85.    Regular incense cannot be used on the golden altar (Ex. 30:37).

86.    Do not remove the staves from the ark (Ex. 25:15).

87.    Do not remove the breastplate from the ephod (Ex. 28:28).

88.    Do not make any incision in the upper garment of the high priest (Ex. 28:32).

Sacrifices

89.    Do not offer sacrifices outside the Temple (Deut. 12:13).

90.    Do not slaughter consecrated animals outside the Temple (Lev. 17:3, 4).

91.    Do not sanctify a blemished animal (Lev. 22:20).

92.    Do not slaughter a blemished animal (Lev. 22:22).

93.    Do not sprinkle the blood of a blemished animal (Lev. 22:24).

94.    Do not burn the inner parts of a blemished animal (Lev. 22:22).

95.    Do not do any of the above even if the blemish is of a temporary nature (Deut. 17:1).

96.    Do not even allow a Gentile to offer such an animal (Lev. 22:25).

97.    Do not inflict a blemish on an animal consecrated for sacrifice (Lev. 22:21).

98.    Leaven or honey may not be offered on the altar (Lev. 2:11).

99.    Nothing unsalted may be offered on the altar (Lev. 2:13).

100.    An animal received as the hire of a harlot or as the price of a dog may not be offered (Deut. 23:19).

101.    Do not kill an animal and its young on the same day (Lev. 22:28).

102.    It is forbidden to use olive oil in the sin offering (Lev. 5:11).

103.    The same is true with frankincense (Lev. 5:11).

104.    Do not use olive oil in the jealousy offering (Num. 5:15).

105.    Do not use frankincense in the jealousy offering (Num. 5:15).

106.    Do not substitute sacrifices (Lev. 27:10).

107.    Do not take from one category and give to the other (Lev. 27:26).

108.    Do not redeem the firstborn of permitted animals (Num. 18:17).

109.    Do not sell the tithe of the herd (Lev. 27:33).

110.    Do not sell a field consecrated by the herem vow (Lev. 27:28).

111.    Do not redeem a field consecrated by the herem vow (Lev. 27:28).

112.    In slaughtering a bird for a sin offering, do not split its head (Lev. 5:8).

113.    Do not work with a consecrated animal (Deut. 15:19).

114.    Do not shear a consecrated animal (Deut. 15:19).

115.    Do not slaughter the paschal lamb while there is still leaven about (Ex. 34:25).

116.    Do not leave overnight those parts that are to be offered up (Ex. 23:10).

117.    Do not leave overnight those parts that are to be eaten (Ex. 12:10).

118.    Do not leave any part of the festive offering until the third day (Deut. 16:4).

119.    Do not leave any part of the second paschal lamb (Num. 9:13).

120.    Do not leave the thanksgiving offering until the morning (Lev. 22:30).

121.    Do not break a bone of the first paschal lamb (Ex. 12:46).

122.    Do not break a bone of the second lamb (Num. 9:12).

123.    Do not carry their flesh out of the house where it is being eaten (Ex. 12:46).

124.    Do not allow the remains of the meal offering to become leaven (Lev. 6:10).

125.    Do not eat the paschal lamb raw or sodden (Ex. 12:9).

126.    Do not allow an alien resident to eat of it (Ex. 12:45).

127.    Do not allow an uncircumcised person to eat of it (Ex. 12:48).

128.    Do not allow an apostate to eat of it (Ex. 12:43).

129.    A ritually unclean person must not eat of holy things (Lev. 12:4).

130.    Holy things which have become unclean must not be eaten (Lev. 7:19).

131.    Sacrificial meat which is left after the time-limit cannot be eaten (Lev. 19:6-8).

132.    Meat slaughtered with the wrong intentions cannot be eaten (Lev. 7:18).

133.    The heave offering cannot be eaten by a non-priest (Lev. 22:10).

134.    Neither can a priest’s sojourner or hired worker eat it (Rev. 22:10).

135.    Neither can an uncircumcised person eat it (Lev. 22:10).

136.    Neither can an unclean priest eat it (Lev. 22:4).

137.    The daughter of a priest who is married to a non-priest may not eat of holy things (Lev. 22:12).

138.    The meal offering of the priest must not be eaten (Lev. 6:16).

139.    The flesh of the sin offering sacrificed within the sanctuary may not be eaten (Lev. 6:23).

140.    Consecrated animals which have become blemished cannot be eaten (Deut. 14:3).

141.    Do not eat the second tithe of corn (Deut 12:17).

142.    Do not drink the second tithe of wine (Deut. 12:17).

143.    Do not eat the second tithe of oil (Deut. 12:17).

144.    Do not eat unblemished firstlings outside Jerusalem (Deut. 12:17).

145.    The priests may not eat the sin-offerings or the trespass-offerings outside the Temple courts (Deut. 12:17).

146.    Do not eat the flesh of the burnt offerings at all (Deut. 12:17).

147.    The lighter sacrifices may not be eaten before the blood has been sprinkled (Deut. 12:17).

148.    A non-priest may not eat of the holiest sacrifices (Deut. 12:17).

149.    A priest may not eat the firstfruits outside the Temple courts (Ex. 29:33).

150.    One may not eat the second tithe while in the state of impurity (Deut. 26:14).

151.    One may also not do this if in the state of mourning. (Deut. 26:14).

152.    Its redemption money may not be used for anything other than food and drink (Deut. 26:14).

153.    Do not eat untithed produce (Lev. 22:15).

154.    Do not change the order of separating the various tithes (Ex. 22:28).

155.    Do not delay payment of offerings, either freewill or obligatory (Deut. 23:22).

156.    Do not come to the Temple on the pilgrim festivals without an offering (Ex. 23:15).

157.    Do not break your word (Num. 30:3).

Priests

158.    A priest may not marry a harlot (Lev. 21:7).

159.    He may not marry a profane woman (Lev. 21:7).

160.    He may not marry a divorcee (Lev. 21:7).

161.    The high priest cannot marry a widow (Lev. 21:14).

162.    He cannot take a concubine (Lev. 21:15).

163.    Priests cannot enter the sanctuary with overgrown hair of the head (Lev. 10:6).

164.    They must not enter the sanctuary with torn clothing (Lev. 10:6).

165.    They must not leave the courtyard during the Temple service (Lev. 10:7).

166.    An ordinary priest may not render himself ritually impure except for those relatives specified (Lev. 21:1).

167.    The high priest cannot become impure for anybody (Lev. 21:11).

168.    He cannot become impure for any reason (Lev. 21:11).

169.    The tribe of Levi shall have no part in the division of the land of Israel (Deut. 18:1).

170.    The tribe of Levi shall not partake of the spoils of war (Deut. 18:1).

171.    It is forbidden to make oneself bald as a sign of mourning for one’s dead (Deut. 14:1).

Dietary Laws

172.    A Jew may not eat unclean cattle (Deut. 14:7).

173.    He may not eat unclean fish (Lev. 11:11).

174.    He may not eat unclean fowl (Lev. 11:13).

175.    He may not eat creeping things that fly (Deut. 14:19).

176.    He may not eat creatures that creep upon the ground (Lev. 11:41).

177.    He may not eat reptiles (Lev. 11:44).

178.    He may not eat worms found in fruit or produce (Lev. 11:42).

179.    He may not eat any detestable creature (Lev. 11:43).

180.    He cannot eat an animal that has died naturally (Deut. 14:21).

181.    He cannot eat a torn or mauled animal (Ex. 22:30).

182.    He cannot eat any limb taken from a living animal (Deut. 12:23).

183.    He cannot eat the sinew of the thigh (Gen. 32:32).

184.    He cannot eat blood (Lev. 7:26).

185.    He cannot eat a certain type of fat (Lev. 7:23).

186.    It is forbidden to cook meat together with milk (Ex. 23:19).

187.    It is forbidden to eat of such a mixture (Ex. 34:26).

188.    One cannot eat an ox condemned to stoning (Ex. 21:28).

189.    One may not eat bread made of new corn itself before the omer offering has been brought on the sixteenth of Nisan (Lev. 23:14).

190.    One may not eat of roasted corn until the omer has been offered (Lev. 23:14).

191.    One may not eat of green corn (Lev. 23:14).

192.    One may not eat orlah (Lev. 19:23).

193.    One may not eat the growth of mixed planting in the vineyard (Deut. 22:9).

194.    Any use of wine libations to idols is prohibited (Deut. 32:38).

195.    Gluttony and drunkenness is prohibited (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 21:20).

196.    It is forbidden to eat anything on the day of atonement (Lev. 23:29).

197.    One may not eat leaven (hamez) during the Passover (Ex. 13:3).

198.    One may not eat anything containing an admixture of such during the Passover (Ex. 13:20).

199.    One may not eat leaven the day before the Passover (Deut. 16:3).

200.    During the Passover no leaven may be seen in one’s possession (Ex. 13:7).

201.    During the Passover no leaven may be found in one’s possession (Ex. 12:19).

Nazarites

202.    A Nazarite may not drink wine or any beverage made from grapes (Num. 6:3).

203.    He may not eat fresh grapes (Num. 6:3).

204.    He may not eat dried grapes (Num. 6:3).

208.    He may not eat grape seeds (Num. 6:4). 206.    He may not eat grape peel (Num. 6:4).

207.    He may not render himself ritually impure for his dead (Num. 6:7).

208.    He may not enter a tent in which there is a corpse (Lev. 21:11).

209.    He must not shave his hair (Num. 6:5).

Agriculture

210.    One cannot reap the whole of a field without leaving the corners for the poor (Lev. 23:22).

211.    Do not gather up the ears of corn that fall during reaping or during harvest (Lev. 19:9).

212.    Do not gather the misformed clusters of grapes (Lev. 19:10).

213.    Do not gather the grapes that fall (Lev. 19:10).

214.    Do not return to take a forgotten sheaf (Deut. 24:19).

215.    Do not sow different species of seed together (Lev. 19:19).

216.    Do not sow corn in a vineyard (Deut. 22:9).

217.    Do not crossbreed different species of animals (Lev. 19:19).

218.    Do not work with two different species yoked together (Deut. 22:10).

219.    Do not muzzle an animal working in a field to prevent it from eating (Deut. 25:4).

220.    Do not till the earth in the seventh year (Lev. 25:4).

221.    Do not prune trees in the seventh year (Lev. 25:4).

222.    Do not reap (in the usual manner) produce in the seventh year (Lev. 25:5).

223.    Do not reap fruit in the seventh year (Lev. 25:5).

224.    Do not till the earth or prune trees in the jubilee year (Lev. 25:11).

225.    Do not harvest produce in the jubilee year (Lev. 25:11).

226.    Do not harvest fruit in the jubilee year (Lev. 25:11).

227.    One may not sell one’s landed inheritance in the land of Israel permanently (Lev. 25:23).

228.    One may not change the lands of the Levites (Lev. 25:33).

229.    One may not leave the Levites without support (Deut. 12:19).

Loans, Business, and the Treatment of Slaves

230.    One cannot demand repayment of a loan after the seventh year (Deut. 15:2).

231.    One may however refuse to lend to the poor because that year is approaching (Deut. 15:9).

232.    Do not deny charity to the poor (Deut. 15:7).

233.    Do not send a Hebrew slave away empty-handed when he finishes his period of service (Deut. 15:13).

234.    Do not dun a debtor when you know he cannot pay (Ex. 22:24).

235.    Do not lend to another Jew at interest (Lev. 25:37).

236.    Do not borrow from another Jew at interest (Deut. 23:20).

237.    Do not participate in an agreement involving interest either as a guarantor, witness, or writer of the contract (Ex. 22:24).

238.    Do not delay payment of wages (Lev. 19:13).

239.    Do not take a pledge from a debtor by violence (Deut. 24:10).

240.    Do not keep a poor man’s pledge when he needs it (Deut. 24:12).

241.    Do not take any pledge from a widow (Deut. 24:17).

242.    Do not take a pledge from any debtor if he earns his living with it (Deut. 24:6).

243.    Kidnaping a Jew is forbidden (Ex. 20:13).

244.    Do not steal (Lev. 19:11).

245.    Do not rob by violence (Lev. 19:13).

246.    Do not remove a landmark (Deut. 19:14).

247.    Do not defraud (Lev. 19:13).

248.    Do not deny receipt of a loan or a deposit (Lev. 19:11).

249.    Do not swear falsely regarding another man’s property (Lev. 19:11).

250.    Do not deceive anybody in business (Lev. 25:14).

251.    Do not mislead a man even verbally (Lev. 25:17).

252.    Do not harm a stranger verbally (Ex. 22:20).

253.    Do not do him injury in trade (Ex. 22:20).

254.    Do not return a runaway slave who has fled to the land of Israel to his master (Deut. 23:16).

255.    Do not take any advantage of such a slave (Deut. 23:17).

256.    Do not afflict the widow or the orphan (Ex. 22:21).

257.    Do not misuse a Hebrew slave (Lev. 25:39).

258.    Do not sell a Hebrew slave (Lev. 25:42).

259.    Do not treat him cruelly (Lev. 25:43).

260.    Do not allow a heathen to mistreat him (Lev. 25:53).

261.    Do not sell your Hebrew maidservant (Ex. 21:8).

262.    If you marry her, do not withhold food, clothing, and conjugal rights from her (Ex. 21:10).

263.    Do not sell a female captive (Deut. 21:14).

264.    Do not treat her as a slave (Deut. 21:14).

265.    Do not covet another man’s possessions (Ex. 20:17).

266.    Even the desire alone is forbidden (Deut. 8:18).

267.    A worker must not cut down standing corn during his work (Deut. 23:25).

268.    He must not take more fruit than he can eat (Deut. 23:25).

269.    One must not keep a lost article he has found (Deut. 22:3).

270.    One cannot refuse to help a man or an animal which is collapsing under its burden (Ex. 23:5).

271.    It is forbidden to defraud with weights and measures (Lev. 19:35).

272.    It is forbidden to possess inaccurate weights (Deut. 25:13).

Justice

273.    A judge must not perpetrate injustice (Lev. 19:15). 274.    He must not accept bribes (Ex. 23:8).

275.    He must not be partial (Lev. 19:15). 276.    He must not be afraid (Deut. 1:17).

277.    He may not favor the poor (Ex. 23:3; Lev. 19:15).

278.    He may not discriminate against the wicked (Ex. 23:6).

279.    He shall not pity the condemned (Deut. 19:13).

280.    He shall not pervert the judgment of strangers or orphans (Deut. 24:17).

281.    It is forbidden to hear one litigant without the other being present (Ex. 23:1).

282.    A capital case cannot be decided by a majority of one (Ex. 23:2).

283.    A judge should not accept another judge’s opinion unless he is convinced of its correctness (Ex. 23:2).

284.    One ignorant of the law cannot be appointed as a judge (Deut. 1:17).

285.    Do not give false testimony (Ex. 20:16).

286.    Do not accept testimony from a wicked person (Ex. 23:1).

287.    Do not accept testimony from relatives of a person involved in the case (Deut. 24:16).

288.    Do not pronounce judgment on the basis of the testimony of one witness (Deut. 19:15).

289.    Do not murder (Ex. 20:13).

290.    Do not convict on circumstantial evidence alone (Ex. 23:7).

291.    A witness must not sit as a judge in capital cases (Num. 35:30).

292.    Do not execute anybody without proper trial and conviction (Num. 35:12).

293.    Do not pity or spare the pursuer (Deut. 25:12).

294.    Punishment is not to be inflicted for an act committed under duress (Deut. 22:26).

295.    Do not accept ransom for a murderer (Num. 35:31).

296.    Do not accept ransom for a manslayer (Num. 35:32).

297.    Do not hesitate to save another person from danger (Lev. 19:16).

298.    Do not leave a stumblingblock in the way (Deut. 22:8).

299.    Do not mislead another person by giving wrong advice (Lev. 19:14).

300.    Do not tell tales (Lev. 19:16).

301.    It is forbidden to administer more than the assigned number of lashes to the guilty (Deut. 25:2, 3)

302.    Do not bear hatred in your heart (Lev. 19:17).

303.    Do not shame a Jew (Lev. 19:17).

304.    Do not bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18).

305.    Do not take revenge (Lev. 19:18).

306.    Do not take the dam when you take the young birds (Deut. 22:6).

307.    Do not shave a leprous scall (Lev. 13:33).

308.    Do not remove other signs of that affliction (Deut. 24:8).

309.    Do not cultivate a valley in which a slain body was found (Deut. 21:4).

310.    Do not suffer a witch to live (Ex. 22:17).

311.    Do not force a bridegroom to perform military service during the first year of his marriage (Deut. 24:5).

312.    Do not rebel against the transmitters of the tradition of the law (Deut. 17:11).

313.    Do not add to the precepts of the law (Deut. 13:1).

314.    Do not subtract from the precepts of the law (Deut. 13:1).

315.    Do not curse a judge (Ex. 22:27).

316.    Do not curse a ruler (Ex. 22:27).

317.    Do not curse any Jew (Lev. 19:14).

318.    Do not curse a parent (Ex. 21:17).

319.    Do not strike a parent (Ex. 21:15).

320.    Do not work on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10).

321.    Do not walk further than the permitted limits (Ex. 16:29).

322.    Do not inflict punishment on the Sabbath (Ex. 35:3).

323.    Do not work on the first day of the Passover (Ex. 12:16).

324.    Do not work on the seventh day of the Passover (Ex. 12:16).

325.    Do not work on the Shavuot (Lev. 23:21).

326.    Do not work on Rosh Ha-Shanah (Lev. 23:25).

327.    Do not work on the first day of Sukkot (Lev. 23:35).

328.    Do not work on the eighth day of Sukkot (Lev. 23:36).

329.    Do not work on the day of atonement (Lev. 23:28).

Incest and Other Forbidden Relationships

330.    It is forbidden to have sexual relations with one’s mother (Lev. 18:7).

331.    This is true also with one’s step-mother (Lev. 18:8).

332.    This is true with one’s sister (Lev. 18:9).

333.    This is true with one’s step-sister (Lev. 18:11).

334.    This is true with a daughter-in-law (Lev. 18:10).

335.    This is true with a granddaughter (Lev. 18:10).

336.    This is true with a daughter (Lev. 18:10).

337.    This is also forbidden between mother and daughter (Lev. 18:17).

338.    It is forbidden between a mother and her daughter-in-law (Lev. 18:17).

339.    It is forbidden between a grandmother and her granddaughter (Lev. 18:17).

340.    It is forbidden between nephew and aunt (Lev. 18:12).

341.    It is forbidden between niece and aunt (Lev. 18:13).

342.    It is forbidden with one’s paternal uncle’s wife (Lev. 18:14).

343.    It is forbidden with one’s daughter-in-law (Lev. 18:15).

344.    It is forbidden with one’s brother’s wife (Lev. 18:16).

345.    It is forbidden with one’s wife’s sister (Lev. 18:18).

346.    It is forbidden to have sexual relations with a menstruous woman (Lev. 18:19).

347.    Do not commit adultery (Lev. 18:20).

348.    A man shall not have sexual relations with an animal (Lev. 18:23).

349.    A woman shall not have sexual relations with an animal (Lev. 18:23).

350.    Homosexuality is forbidden (Lev. 18:22).

351.    Homosexuality is forbidden with one’s father (Lev. 18:7).

352.    Homosexuality is forbidden with one’s uncle (Lev. 15:14).

353.    It is forbidden to have any intimate physical contact with anyone except one’s own wife (Lev. 18:6).

354.    A mamzer may not marry a Jewess (Deut. 23:3).

355.    Harlotry is forbidden (Deut. 23:18). 356.    A divorcée may not be remarried to her first husband if, in the meanwhile, she has married another (Deut. 24:4).

357.    A childless widow may not marry anybody other than her late husband’s brother (Deut. 25:5).

358.    A man may not divorce a wife whom he married after having raped her (Deut. 22:29).

359.    This is also true if he has slandered her (Deut. 22:19).

360.    An eunuch may not marry a Jewess (Deut. 23:2).

361.    Castration is forbidden (Lev. 22:24).

The Monarchy

362.    An elected king must be of the seed of Israel (Deut. 17:15).

363.    He must not accumulate an excess number of horses (Deut. 17:16).

364.    He must not multiply unto himself many wives (Deut. 17:17).

365.    He must not multiply unto himself much wealth (Deut. 17:17).

 
 
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