This morning as I read through chapter 4, “The Demands of Preaching”, from the book “Light and Heat : the Puritan View of Preaching” by R. Bruce Bickel, I came across some great tidbits. The Puritan preacher viewed his vocation as a demanding and convicting vocation. The demands being a natural result of their calling, their knowledge of who God is, and the office He had sovereignly given them. The Puritan view of God and His church gave them the awesome judgment that an unfaithful servant did more harm than good to the church.
With this high view and mindset of preaching to one’s own heart, the Puritan Richard Baxter proceeded to write his celebrated work, “The Reformed Pastor”. Concerning the pastor himself he wrote:
Take heed to yourselves, lest you should be void of that saving grace of God, which you offer to others, and be stranger to the effectual workings of that gospel which you preach . . . Many a preacher is now in hell, that hath a hundred times called upon his hearers to use the utmost care and diligence to escape it. . . . Believe it, brethren, God never saved any man for being a preacher; but because he was a justified, santified man, and consequently faithful in his master’s work. Take heed therefore, to yourselves first, that you be that which you persuade your hearers to be.
Charles Spurgeon, one of the last of the pure Puritan preachers, charged the members of the Pastor’s College, he founded or the purpose of equipping preachers, with this following exhortion:
If we are to pursue our holy calling with success, we need to be better men. Brethren, I do not depreciate you, far from it. But, personally, I feel that, as the times grow sterner, I must cry to God for more grace, that I may be more able to cope with them. Brethren, let it be a main business with us to ourselves more holy, more gracious, and therefore better fitted for our work. Let us not judge ourselves by others, and say, with deadening self-complacency, “We are getting on well as compared with our brethren.” Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants: then pride will be impossible, but hopefulness will be natural.
I’d like to conclude with something I have only learned myself over the past few years. I learned this from my pastor and it was also the character mark of the Puritans as well.
One who did not preach to his own heart could not preach effectively to others.
and as Richard Baxter also has stated:
If the work of the Lord be not soundly done upon your own hearts, how can you expect that he bless you labours for the effecting of ot in others?
Soli Deo Gloria!