Monday, September 01, 2008

The Excellent Privileges of the Ministerial Office

I recently re-read Richard Baxter's classic, The Reformed Pastor. It is the sort of book every pastor should read annually. In discussing the Pastor's motives for shepherding the flock, Baxter reflects on the privileges of the ministry. His thoughts are worth sharing on Labor Day. I feel sorry for those who have to do jobs that they do not enjoy. I concur with Baxter, what an "excellent privilege" it is "to live in studying and preaching Christ!"
Here are Baxter's thoughts on "the excellent privileges of the ministerial office":
Consider that you have many other excellent privileges of the ministerial office to encourage you to the work. If therefore you will not do the work, you have nothing to do with the privileges. It is something that you are maintained by other men’s labors. This is for your work, that you may not be taken off from it, but, as Paul requireth, may ‘give yourselves wholly to these things,’ and not be forced to neglect men’s souls, whilst you are providing for your own bodies. Either do the work, then, or take not the maintenance.
But you have far greater privileges than this. Is it nothing to be brought up to learning, when others are brought up to the cart and plough? and to be furnished with so much delightful knowledge, when the world lieth in ignorance? Is it nothing to converse with learned men, and to talk of high and glorious things, when others must converse with almost none but the most vulgar and illiterate But especially, what an excellent privilege is it, to live in studying and preaching Christ! to be continually searching into his mysteries, or feeding on them! to be daily employed in the consideration of he blessed nature, works, and ways of God! Others are glad of the leisure of the Lord’s day, and now and then of an hour besides, when they can lay hold upon it. But we may keep a continual Sabbath. We may do almost nothing else, but study and talk of God and glory, and engage in acts of prayer and praise, and drink in his sacred, saving truths. Our employment is all high and spiritual. Whether we be alone, or in company, our business is for another world. O that our hearts were but more tuned to this work! What a blessed, joyful life should we then live! How sweet would our study be to us! How pleasant the pulpit! And what delight would our conference about spiritual and eternal things afford us! To live among such excellent helps as our libraries afford, to have so many silent wise companions whenever we please – all these, and many other similar privileges of the ministry, bespeak our unwearied diligence in the work.

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