Always a Timely, and Needed, Reminder
[from The Charleston Observer 14.40 (21 November 1840): 1, col. 5-6.]
Called to a great work he needs your prayers; “He is an ambassador for Christ; a steward of the mysteries of God, to declare his course; to preach the Word, instant in season, and out of season.” he stands in the place of the Divine Redeemer, to publish His message of mercy, and to urge its acceptance upon mankind. He is appointed to proclaim the mind of the Most High, to declare His law, to utter His threatenings, to speak His promises, to press His claims, to do it truly and faithfully. To accomplish this, he “must give attendance to his preaching, to exhortation, to doctrine, not neglecting the gift he has received with prophecy and the laying on of hands of the Presbytery, meditating continually on these things, that no man may despise his attainments. This is to be done too, in opposition to the views of many who would have him always among his people; and in preaching a thorougly extemporaneous man, and also in the midst of multiplied and various calls upon his time and attention. He must also “be an example to the flock in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity; in doctrine, showing uncorruptness; in meekness, instructing them that oppose themselves, holding fast the faithful word.”
What knowledge, wisdom and grace, are requisite for all this? How must the heart glow with the love of God! What humility, and patience, and kindness are necessary! What firmness and decision, tempered with what meekness and love! How must the minister be rooted, and grounded in the truth! What spiritual discernment ppossess, what unquenchable love to souls! What a heavenly mind—a Christ-like temper and a holy life; and who shall possess these without large measures of the Spirit of truth and grace? and this is a gift bestowed in answer to prayer.
Then Christian, pray for that gift to thy minister. Remember too, his work is trying. He is tried, among other things, by the carelessness and inaction of the church—by the apathy and unbelief of his impenitent hearers. Perhaps at the very moment some are complaining of his lifelessness, and look abroad for foreign aid, he is mourning in his closet the spiritual dearth among his people, and beseeching the God of heaven to revive his work, and to render his labors, though he feels personal unworthiness, more efficient and successful. As he surveys the fruitlessness of his field of labor, his heart almost faints within him. What need of supporting grace. Christian, seek it in his behalf by prayer.
Think too, of the diversity of opinion and feeling among his people. Lift up your eye. Behold the eager anxieety to catch at something new and strange. Mark the jealousy and suspicion which exist between brethren. What shall he do? How keep his heart right, and pursue the right course? How stand amid conflicting views, unawed by fear; unwarped by prejudice; meek though bold, and speak the truth as it is in Christ? Who needs your prayers, if he does not need them?
Then think he is a man, liable to the errors, and frailties and sins of men. He is not infallible. He is not all-wise, nor all-prudent, nor all holy. A human being, is he called to these duties and trials. An angel might sink under them, what shall he do?—How much grace does he need? Then what need of prayer in his behalf? Christian, cease to dwell upon his imperfections and proclaim his foibles; go to your closet, and if you can pray, pray that God would anoint him anew for his work. Should you and your brethren do it, you might expect him to be far holier, far wiser, far more efficient and successful. Then, too, your own improvement and happiness call upon you to do this. The connection between the labors of your pastor, and the welfare of the Church is intimate and obvious. You in fact allow it. Therefore you provide for those labors. You erect houses of worship, you employ preacher, you attend to hear. To build up the Church what need that preaching be correct, spiritual, discriminating, earnest; that it be in demonstration of the spirit and with power.
Could the preacher come each Sabbath laden with knowledge, imbued with love, and attended by the Holy Ghost—could he go thus from house to house, and meeting to meeting, how much might be accomplished. Souls would be fed and nourished. The thoughtless be aroused, the fearful encouraged, the doubting confirmed. Many would arise to new activity in the divine life. Sinners too must feel its influence. God hath constituted the preaching of the Gospel His power and wisdom unto salvation. Infinite consequences are depending. That Gospel is a savor of life or of death. With God’s blessing it may raise the soul from sin to holiness. It may save it from hell and bear it to heaven. Here is the grand reason after all, to pray for ministers. Their personal difficulties and trials are of small account.—It is that the Gospel may have free course and be glorified; that it may hasten on its way, making glad the city of our God, and bearing salvation to the lost.
If you would love that Gospel, if you would see it triumph, if you love the souls it was given to save, and him who gave it, never forget to pray for your minister. “Finally brethren, pray for us;” then the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.