Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ministerial Pride, Part II - Richard Baxter

Following yesterday's post are these comments from the same essay, Ministerial Pride, by Puritan pastor, Richard Baxter. It is published in the Puritan Reformed Journal, Volume I, Number I, 2009 and can be purchased here.

After noting how pride can be the minister's companion in the study, in the pulpit, and at home, Baxter makes this observation:

"But even this is not all, nor the worst, if the worse may be...they envy the talents and names of their brethren who are preferred before them...Yet, alas, how common is this heinous scrime of envy and pride -- among ministers of Christ! They can secretly blot out the reputation of those that stand in the way of their own; and what they cannot for shame do in plain and open terms, lest they be proved liars and slanderers, they will do in generals, and by malicious intimations, raising suspicions where they cannot fasten accusations. And some go so far, that they are unwilling that anyone who is abler than themselves, should come into their pulpits, lest they should be more applauded then themselves! A fearful thing it is, that any man, who has the least of the fear of God, should so envy God's gifts, and had rather that his carnal hearers should remain uncoverted, and the drowsy unawakened, than that it should be done by another who may be preferred before him!"

"Yes, so far does this cursed vice prevail, that in large congregations, which have need of the help of many preachers, we can scarcely, in many places, get two of equality to live together in love and quietness, and unanimously to carry on the work of God. But unless one of them be quite below the other in abilities, and content to be so estemed, or unless he is willing to be ruled by him, they are contending for precedency, and evying each other's interest, and walking with coldness and jealousy towards one another, to the shame of their profession, and the great wrong of their people!"

"I am ashamed to think of it, that when I have been laboring to convince people of the great necessity of more ministers than one in large congregations, they tell me, 'they will never agree together!' I hope the objection is unfounded as to the most, but it is a sad case that it should be true of any. Nay, some men are so far gone in pride, that when they might have an equal assistant to further the work of God, they had rather take all the burden upon themselves, though more than they can bear, than that anyone should share with them in the honor, or that their interest in the esteem of the people should be diminished!"

More tomorrow.

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