Listening to Baxter’s Reformed Pastor while on the John Deere again. Here’s another gem, helpful for our day of the pulpiteer…
I will give you the instance of my own case. We are together two ministers, and a third at a chapel, willing to spend every hour of our time in Christ’s work. Before we undertook this work, our hands were full, and now we are engaged to set apart two days every week, from morning to night, for private catechizing and instruction; so that any man may see that we must leave undone all that other work that we were wont to do at that time: and we are necessitated to run upon the public work of preaching with small preparation, and so must deliver the message of God so rawly and confusedly, and unanswerably to its dignity and the need of men’s souls, that it is a great trouble to our minds to consider it, and a greater trouble to us when we are doing it. And yet it must be so; there is no remedy: unless we will omit this personal instruction, we must needs run thus unpreparedly into the pulpit. And to omit this we dare not — it is so great and necessary a work.
In many cases, I believe more reliance in short preparation and in the moment on the Holy Spirit by faith would actually lead to better preaching (less exposition, more exhortation)…and leave more time for our neglected pastoral work.
Friendship must be cemented by piety. A wicked man cannot be a true friend; and, if you befriend their wickedness, you show that you are wicked yourselves. Pretend not to love them, if you favor their sins, and seek not their salvation. By favoring their sins, you will show your enmity to God; and then how can you love your brother? If you be their best friends, help them against their worst enemies. And think not all sharpness inconsistent with love: parents correct their children, and God himself chastens every son whom he receiveth.’ Augustine saith, Better it is to love even with the accompaniment of severity, than to mislead by (excess of) lenity.’
-Richard Baxter in The Reformed Pastor
It is then an error, though but few are guilty of it, to think that all religion lies in minding only the life to come, and disregarding all things in this present life. All true Christians must seriously mind both the end and the means of attaining it. If they believingly mind not the end, they will never be faithful in the use of the means; if they be not diligent in using the means, they will never obtain the end. None can use earth well, that prefer not heaven; and none but infants can come to heaven, that are not prepared for it by well using earth. Heaven must have our highest esteem, and our habitual love, desire, and joy; but earth must have more of our daily thoughts for present practice. A man that travels to the most desirable home, has a habitual desire to it all the way; but his present business is his journey, and therefore his horse, inns, and company, his roads, and his fatigues, may employ more of his thoughts, and talk, and action, than his home.
-From Richard Baxter’s Dying Thoughts