And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
~ Ephesians 4:11
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
~ 1 Timothy 4:12
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
~ 1 Timothy 4:15
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
~ 2 Timothy 4:5
Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
~ Romans 15:19
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
~ Colossians 1:25
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
~ Colossians 4:17
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
~ Timothy 4:2
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
~ Ephesians 4:1-3
Motives From the Necessity of the Ministerial Work, and Its Application, by Richard Baxter. The following contains excerpts from his work, “The Reformed Pastor”. 1656.
Motives to this Duty
Article 3 – Motives from the Necessity of the Work, and
Article 4 – Application of These Motives
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Article 3 – Motives from the Necessity of the Work
3. This duty is necessary to your own welfare, as well as to your people’s. This is your work, according to which, among others, you shall be judged. You can no more be saved without ministerial diligence and fidelity, than they or you can be saved without Christian diligence and fidelity. If, therefore, you care not for others, care at least for yourselves. Oh what a dreadful thing is it to answer for the neglect of such a charge! and what sin more heinous than the betraying of souls? Doth not that threatening make you tremble — ‘If thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand?’ I am afraid, nay, I have no doubt, that the day is near when unfaithful ministers will wish that they had never known the charge of souls; but that they had rather been colliers, or sweeps, or tinkers, than pastors of Christ’s flock, when, besides all the rest of their sins, they shall have the blood of so many souls to answer for. O brethren, our death, as well as our people’s, is at hand, and it is as terrible to an unfaithful pastor as to any. When we see that die we must, and that there is no remedy; that no wit, nor learning, nor popular applause, can avert the stroke, or delay the time; but, willing or unwilling, our souls must be gone, and that into a world which we never saw, where our persons and our worldly interest will not be respected; oh, then for a clear conscience, that can say, ‘I lived not to myself but to Christ; I spared not my pains; I hid not my talents; I concealed not men’s misery, nor the way of their recovery.’ O sirs, let us therefore take time while we have it, and work while it is day; ‘for the night cometh, when no man can work.’ This is our day too; and by doing good to others, we must do good to ourselves. If you would prepare for a comfortable death, and a great and glorious reward, the harvest is before you. Gird up the loins of your minds, and quit yourselves like men, that you may end your days with these triumphant words: ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give unto me in that day.’ If you would be blessed with those that die in the Lord, labor now, that you may rest from your labors then, and do such works as you would wish should follow you, and not such as will prove your terror in the review.
Article 4 – Application of These Motives
Having found so many and so powerful reasons to move us to this work, I shall now apply them further for our humiliation and excitation.
1. What cause have we to bleed before the Lord this day, that we have neglected so great and good a work so long; that we have been ministers of the gospel so many years, and done so little by personal instruction and conference for the saving of men’s souls! If we had but set about this business sooner, who knows how many souls might have been brought to Christ, and how much happier our congregations might have been? And why might we not have done it sooner as well as now? I confess, there were many impediments in our way, and so there are still, and will be while there is a devil to tempt, and a corrupt heart in man to resist the light: but if the greatest impediment had not been in ourselves, even in our own darkness, and dulness, and indisposedness to duty, and our dividedness and unaptness to close for the work of God, I see not but much might have been done before this. We had the same God to command us, and the same miserable objects of compassion, and the same liberty from governors as now we have. We have sinned, and have no just excuse for our sin; and the sin is so great, because the duty is so great, that we should be afraid of pleading any excuse. The God of mercy forgive us, and all the ministry of England, and lay not this or any of our ministerial negligences to our charge! Oh that he would cover all our unfaithfulness, and, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, wash away our guilt of the blood of souls; that when the chief Shepherd shall appear, we may stand before him in peace, and may not be condemned for the scattering of his flock. And oh that he would put up his controversy, which he hath against the pastors of his Church, and not deal the worse with them for our sakes, nor suffer underminers or persecutors to scatter them, as they have suffered his sheep to be scattered; and that he will not care as little for us, as we have done for the souls of men; nor think his salvation too good for us, as we have thought our labor and sufferings too much for men’s salvation!
As we have had many days of humiliation in England for the sins of the land, and the judgments that have befallen us, I hope we shall hear that God will more thoroughly humble the ministry, and cause them to bewail their own neglects, and to set apart some days through the land to that end, that they may not think it enough to lament the sins of others, while they overlook their own; and that God may not abhor our solemn national humiliations, because they are managed by unhumbled guides; and that we may first prevail with him for a pardon for ourselves, that we may be the fitter to beg for the pardon of others.
And oh that we may cast out the dung of our pride, contention, self-seeking, and idleness; lest God should cast our sacrifices as dung in our faces, and should cast us out as the dung of the earth, as of late he hath done many others for a warning to us; and that we may presently resolve in concord to mend our pace, before we feel a sharper spur than hitherto we have felt.
2. And now, brethren, what have we to do for the time to come, but to deny our lazy flesh, and rouse up ourselves to the work before us. The harvest is great, the laborers are few; the loiterers and hinderers are many, the souls of men are precious, the misery of sinners is great, and the everlasting misery to which they are near is greater, the joys of heaven are inconceivable, the comfort of a faithful minister is not small, the joy of extensive success will be a full reward. To be fellow-workers with God and his Spirit is no little honor; to subserve the blood-shedding of Christ for men’s salvation is not a light thing. To lead on the armies of Christ through the thickest of the enemy; to guide them safely through a dangerous wilderness; to steer the vessels through such storms and rocks and sands and shelves, and bring it safe to the harbour of rest, requireth no small skill and diligence. The fields now seem even white unto harvest; the preparations that have been made for us are very great; the season of working is more calm than most ages before us have ever seen. We have carelessly loitered too long already; the present time is posting away; while we are trifling, men are dying; oh how fast are they passing into another world! And is there nothing in all this to awaken us to our duty, nothing to resolve us to speedy and unwearied diligence? Can we think that a man can be too careful and painful under all these motives and engagements? Or can that man be a fit instrument for other men’s illumination, who is himself so blind? or for the quickening of others, who is himself so senseless? What, sirs! are ye, who are men of wisdom, as dull as the common people? and do we need to heap up a multitude of words to persuade you to a known and weighty duty? One would think it should be enough to set you on work, to show a line in the Book of God; to prove it to be his will; or to prove to you that the work hath a tendency to promote men’s salvation. One would think that the very sight of your miserable neighbors would be motive sufficient to draw out your most compassionate endeavors for their relief. If a cripple do but unlap his sores, and show you his disabled limbs, it will move you without words; and will not the case of souls, that are near to damnation, move you? O happy church, if the physicians were but healed themselves; and if we had not too much of that infidelity and stupidity against which we daily preach in others; and were more soundly persuaded of that of which we persuade others; and were more deeply affected with the wonderful things wherewith we would affect them!
Were there but such clear and deep impressions upon our own souls of those glorious things which we daily preach, oh what a change would it make in our sermons, and in our private course of life! Oh what a miserable thing it is to the Church and to themselves, that men must preach of heaven and hell, before they soundly believe that there are such things, or have felt the weight of the doctrines which they preach! It would amaze a sensible man to think what matters we preach and talk of; what it is for the soul to pass out of this flesh, and appear before a righteous God, and enter upon unchangeable joy or unchangeable torment! Oh, with what amazing thoughts do dying men apprehend these things! How should such matters be preached and discoursed of! Oh the gravity, the seriousness, the incessant diligence, which these things require! I know not what others think of them; but for my part, I am ashamed of my stupidity, and wonder at myself that I deal not with my own and others’ souls, as one that looks for the great day of the Lord; and that I can have room for almost any other thoughts or words; and that such astonishing matters do not wholly absorb my mind. I marvel how I can preach of them slightly and coldly, and how I can let men alone in their sins, and that I do not go to them, and beseech them, for the Lord’s sake, to repent, however they may take it, and whatever pains or trouble it may cost me! I seldom come out of the pulpit, but my conscience smiteth me that I have been no more serious and fervent in such a case. It accuseth me not so much for want of ornaments or elegancy, nor for letting fall an unhandsome word; but it asketh me, ‘How couldst thou speak of life and death with such a heart? How couldst thou preach of heaven and hell in such a careless, sleepy manner? Dost thou believe what thou sayest? Art thou in earnest or in jest? How canst thou tell people that sin is such a thing, and that so much misery is upon them and before them, and be no more affected with it? Shouldst thou not weep over such a people, and should not thy tears interrupt thy words? Shouldst not thou cry aloud, and show them their transgressions, and entreat and beseech them as for life and death?’ Truly, this is the peal that conscience doth ring in my ears, and yet my drowsy soul will not be awakened.
Oh what a thing is a senseless, hardened heart! O Lord, save us from the plague of infidelity and hard-heartedness ourselves, or else how shall we be fit instruments of saving others from it? Oh, do that on our own souls, which thou wouldst use us to do on the souls of others! I am even confounded to think what a difference there is between my sickbed apprehensions, and my pulpit apprehensions, of the life to come; that ever that can seem so light a matter to me now, which seemed so great and astonishing a matter then, and I know will do so again when death looks me in the face, when yet I daily know and think of that approaching hour; and yet these forethoughts will not recover such working apprehensions! O sirs, surely if you had all conversed with neighbor Death as oft as I have done, and as often received the sentence in yourselves, you would have an unquiet conscience, if not a reformed life, as to your ministerial diligence and fidelity; and you would have something within you that would frequently ask you such questions as these: ‘Is this all thy compassion for lost sinners? Wilt thou do no more to seek and to save them? Is there not such and such — oh how many round about thee! — that are yet the visible sons of death? What hast thou said to them, or done for their conversion? Shall they die and be in hell before thou wilt speak to them one serious word to prevent it? Shall they there curse thee for ever that didst no more in time to save them?’
Such cries of conscience are daily ringing in mine ears, though, the Lord knows, I have too little obeyed them. The God of mercy pardon me, and awaken me, with the rest of his servants that have been thus sinfully negligent. I confess to my shame that I seldom hear the bell toll for one that is dead, but conscience asketh me, ‘What hast thou done for the saving of that soul before it left the body? There is one more gone to judgment; what didst thou to prepare him for judgment?’ and yet I have been slothful and backward to help them that survive. How can you choose, when you are laying a corpse in the grave, but think with yourselves, ‘Here lieth the body; but where is the soul? and what have I done for it, before it departed? It was part of my charge; what account can I give of it?’
O sirs, is it a small matter to you to answer such questions as these? It may seem so now, but the hour is coming when it will not seem so. ‘If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts,’ and will condemn us much more, even with another kind of condemnation than conscience doth. The voice of conscience is a still voice, and the sentence of conscience is a gentle sentence, in comparison of the voice and the sentence of God. Alas! conscience seeth but a very little of our sin and misery, in comparison of what God seeth. What mountains would these things appear to your souls, which now seem molehills? What beams would these be in your eyes, that now seem motes, if you did but see them with a clearer light? (I dare not say, As God seeth them.) We can easily make shift to plead the cause with conscience, and either bribe it, or bear its sentence; but God is not so easily dealt with, nor his sentence so easily borne. ‘Wherefore we receiving,’ and preaching, ‘a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence, and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.’