Faithful Shepherd 1B

Here is the rest of Chapter 1, originally posted at Heavenly Worldliness
HY then should any disdain (O you sons of nobles) to take this calling on you? Hear, I pray you, (you heralds of the ever living God) may it possibly seem a small thing (2 Co 2:15, 10:5) to be a people separated to God himself from the multitude of men? To be the sweet savour of Christ in all that are saved and them that perish? To cast down the imagination of man, and every high thought against God? To bring it captive to the obedience of Christ? Is it a small matter to meddle with the secrets of God, to save souls, to open for or shut against the door to the kingdom of heaven?Many other callings are both on the earth and for the earth or earthly matters. But this concerns the soul and heavenly things. This calling in every part forces heavenly thoughts on a man in a way that no other really does. When a minister truly speaks God’s Word, he can speak freely to all and they must listen to him with reverence, as though God spoke. Otherwise, it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement than for that person or people (Mt 10:14,15).Erasmus says that if we rightly think about it, though they are not equal to kings in magnificence, pastors, bishops and all pastors, are kings. And in case that may seem an exaggeration, he proves it by comparing the matter and scope of the one calling with the other. The honour and exaltedness of a bishop (see Ambrose in his Pastorali) are beyond compare. Even the splendour of a king or crowned prince is very much inferior to it in comparison, just as the lustre of lead cannot compare with that of gold.Then again a little later in the same book he says that there is nothing in this world as excellent as a priest, nothing as exalted as the power of a bishop. Now lest this should be taken as spoken only of such as are bishops it is clear that here he must mean bishops and priests as he speaks of priests before bishops.
It must be understood of good bishops and priests, of course. He says that there is nothing in this world as unwholesome as impious bishops and priests, as the papists are. Their God is their belly, they glory in flattering themselves about their ability, honour and the idle talk they busy themselves with. Their understanding is earthbound. They are greedy and determined to listen only to their own grasping words. They are like creatures who are very experienced in finding pleasure in the places where they daily dabble. They have a rapine spirit at work in them. They combine their benefits and honour with insatiable lust. For them murkiest darkness is eternally reserved.But for such as are faithful a crown of glory is reserved. By saving souls they shall shine in heaven like the stars for ever and ever. We thus see the necessity of this calling, its honourable nature and how highly it is magnified by God himself and good men. There is no reason why among us who are called Christians, it should be thought of as such a contemptible calling when the very heathen, who never knew the true God, revered it so much. It is recorded that among the Athenians no king was created before he had taken orders and was made a priest. The Egyptians are said to choose their priests from philosophers and their kings from priests.
Uzziah, a mighty king in Judah, though he offended by being presumptuous, nevertheless by his act declared his high esteem for the priest’s office. He showed that it was not as lowly in his eyes as the Christian ministry is among many of us. It is an office more suitable for the mightiest person of the best education and noblest birth than for the basest of the people and the lowest sort, the type of person on whom it is cast, for the most part, because the wise men of the world, men of might and nobility, consider it beneath their dignity. The Word itself is too simple a subject for their deep conceits and ambitious policies. But this is the Lord’s doing (1 Co 2) so that the foolish things of the world might confound the wise; the weak things the mighty; vile things and despised things (so is God’s choice) to bring to nothing the things that are; that all may be said to be of him, and he have the more glory, who for this is to be praised forever. Amen.

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