Faithful Shepherd 3B

This is the second part of Chapter 3 on the Minister’s wise and godly proceeding in his pastoral charge to teach his people.

3. Taught but unsanctified
If they have been a taught people and have knowledge but without a show of sanctification teaching about the Law must be urged on them with legal threats (2 Co 7:8) to bring them to feel their sin. Focus on some particular sin that they are guilty of and stress the evil of that sin on them and the wrath of God that must follow (Ac 8:22). Make them sorry so that in the end they may repent from it. Bring true repentance for one sin and it will lead to a hatred of them all. When they are humbled, preach consolation.
4. A believing and conscientious people
If they know and believe, living religiously in a holy way of life , they must be encouraged, commended and entreated to continue and grow daily. Deliver the law without the curse as a rule of obedience not to condemn them (2 Th 1:5, 4:1; Ac 11:23) and stir them with the sweet promises of the gospel to believe it and practice it to the end.
5. Backsliding
If they be declining or already fallen back either in their understanding or way of life call them back and labour to recover them, by convincing them of errors, correcting their vices (Ga 1, etc, Isa 1, etc, 1 Co) and by showing their future miseries if they fall and their happiness if they return again in good time.
6. A mixed congregation
If the people be a mix as our congregations are, they must be dealt with in all the ways we have outlined above.Inform the ignorant, confirm such as have understanding, reclaim the antagonistic, encourage the virtuous, convince the erroneous, strengthen the weak, recover again the backslider, resolve the uncertainty of those who doubt, feed with milk and strong meat continually in season and out of season. When you yourself do not want to labour and the people do not want to hear (1 Ti 4:1, 2), when pleasures disappear, when worldly cares carry away much labour and appear to be so much waste with little hope of profit to follow, yes, even in persecution, then do not cease. Remember that you have a flock to feed and their blood to answer for (Ez 3, Ac 20). Weigh with compassion their misery, consider your glory and reward in winning souls and that it is God who will fully recompense when the people despise you and consider you as nothing.
It is not good to preach without preparationIn performing your office always be very keen to speak but do not attempt to discharge your public duties without preparation. The person best able to think on his feet, the one with the finest memory for recall or with the most voluble tongue for utterance (excellent gifts but much abused due to idleness and the pursuit of vain glory) may not exempt a man from studying, reading, writing and for some time meditating and being continual in prayer. Indeed men of God with extraordinary gifts in the past were diligent searchers. The Saviour and chief prophet exhorts the teachers in Jerusalem in this way (Jn 5). Paul binds Timothy to it (1 Ti 4:13). Peter plainly shows it to be the practice of the prophets (1 Pe 1:10). It seems that Jeremiah read the Psalms (Je 10, Ps 79:6), Daniel perused Jeremiah (Da 9:2). It is certain that Paul had his books and parchments, not to write in but to read from, if Calvin may be believed. Peter we may see looked into Paul’s letters (2 Pe 3:16).
The emptiness of preaching extemporeIt does not fit the weightiness of the work or the reverence of the place to run suddenly to stand up in the place of God. A rash attempt in such high mysteries simply breeds contempt. A man who desires to show off his extemporary faculty shows his indiscretion and folly. Who that is wise will speak before princes or princely peers of princes’ affairs openly with lightness and suddenly of matters on great importance? Who will, who respects the Lord, give the sentence of life and death rashly? The minister in Christ’s chair speaks of Christ, before God and his angels. The matter is the secrets of the kingdom. The precious treasures of heaven are opened by him and set to sail. He is setting before his hearers life and death, heaven and hell, and is pronouncing the sentence of salvation or damnation on them.
Spontaneous undigested ideas of the mind are bound to be delivered in a rash way
Such speaking is often little to the purpose and often as far from the matter as the man is from serious meditations. The world is full of carpers – not all are conscientious hearers. By the rash and heady trundling out of something, without realising you may give an occasion to those disposed to evil, either out of contempt or in order to be contentious. People with this disposition labour for praise. They either play the worldling all the week or delight in their pleasures and yet can suddenly give people a sermon. However, they often lose what they are looking for from the wise and judicious hearer. Holy things are not to be handled hastily lest we throw pearls to pigs. Maintenance is provided and time is allotted for this and so we do not need, unless we choose, to undertake such work without preparation. Such lightness in preaching gives an airy idea of preaching though not the regular preaching seriously done by study and thinking about the future.Preaching should not be a labour of the laps or talk of the tongue, the result of a light imagination, but a serious meditation on heart knowledge grounded in much study and the illumination of the Spirit.To preach this way will make people take your words seriously. It will move your hearers to reverence, bring more credit to God’s ordinance, work more effectively, yes, pierce more deeply, if you speak with authority, as you will if your words carry the weight of reason and religion and are delivered with a conscious knowledge of the truth.

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