Monday, March 30, 2009

Ministerial Pride, Part I, Richard Baxter

Over the weekend I read a short but moving essay by the Puritan pastor, Richard Baxter, entitled Ministerial Pride. I would like to post a few excerpts from it to spur further thought and reflection among those who in ministry or aspire to be in pastoral ministry. You can find the entire essay published in the Puritan Reformed Journal, 1(2009): 184-191.

"One of our most heinous and palpable sins is pride. This is a sin which has too much sway in most ministers, but which is more hateful and inexcusable in us than in other men. Yet it is so prevalent in some of us, that it fills our discourses, it chooses our company, it forms our countenances, it puts the accent and emphasis upon our words. It fills some men's minds with aspiring desirings and designs. It possesses them with envious and bitter thoughts against those who stand in their light, or who by any means eclipse their glory, or hinder the progress of their repution. Oh what a constant companion, what a tyrannical commander, what a sly and subtle insinuating enemy, is this sin of pride!..."

"I wish that this were all, or the worst. But, alas, how frequently does pride go with us to our study, and there sit with us and do our work! How oft does it choose our subject, and, more frequently still, our words and ornaments! God commands us to be as plain as we can -- that we may inform the ignorant; and as concvincing and serious as we are able -- that we may melt and change their hardened hearts. But pride stands by and contradicts all, and produces its toys and trifles. It pollutes, rather than polishes..."

"And when pride has made the sermon in the study -- it goes with us into the pulpit -- and forms our tone, animates us in the delivery, takes us off from that which may be displeasing, howsoever necessary, and sets us in pusuit of vain applause! In short, the sum of all is this -- pride makes men, both in studying and preaching -- to seek themselves, and deny God -- when they should be seeking God's glory and denying themselves! When they should inquire, 'What shall I say, and how shall I say it -- to please God best, and do most good?' Pride makes them ask, 'What shall I say, and how shall I deliver it, to be thought a learned and able preacher, and to be applauded by all that hear me?'"

"When the sermon is done, pride goes home with them, and makes them more eager to know whether they were applauded than whether they did prevail for the saving of souls."

More to follow.

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