The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Richard Baxter

Moved by Christ’s love

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Richard Baxter to gospel ministers:

O then let us hear those arguments of Christ, whenever we feel ourselves grow dull and careless: ‘Did I die for them, and wilt not thou look after them? Were they worth my blood, and are they not worth thy labour? Did I come down from heaven to earth, to seek and to save that which was lost; and wilt not thou go to the next door, or street, or village to seek them? How small is thy labour and condescension as to mine? I debased myself to this, but it is thy honour to be so employed. Have I done and suffered so much for their salvation, and was I willing to make thee a co-worker with me, and wilt thou refuse that little that lieth upon thy hands?’ Every time we look upon our Congregations, let us believingly remember, that they are the purchase of Christ’s blood, and therefore should be regarded accordingly by us.

And think what a confusion it will be at the last day to a negligent Minister, to have this blood of the Son of God to be pleaded against him, and for Christ to say, ‘It was the purchase of my blood that thou didst so make light of, and dost thou think to be saved by it thyself?’ O, brethren, seeing Christ will bring his blood to plead with us, let it plead us to our duty, lest it plead us to damnation.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 October 2015 at 15:57

Posted in Pastoral theology

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More pastoral theology resources

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Yesterday I began posting some mini-reviews of volumes of pastoral theology. Having covered the As, here we hit the Bs. For some reason, there are lots of As and Bs, as well as Cs, but a smattering of Ds and Es, with a dearth of Qs and Xs, will even things out over time. As previously mentioned, the entire list will eventually appear on the pastoral theology resources page (see sidebar), which I hope you will visit from time to time.

I welcome comments on the list (especially on the pastoral theology page, where I can keep track more readily) and would be particularly interested to know of any other older or newer works of pastoral theology that readers might recommend. Thank you.

Baxter, Richard. The Reformed Pastor. Baxter’s sense of his obligations before God weigh heavily upon him and us in this classic text. Although at times you are almost driven to despair by the felt gravity of the calling and its duties, there is much gold to mine from even the deepest caverns. The sensitive man might wish to keep a complementary volume near at hand to encourage his soul, but anyone with ears to hear will be taught, reproved, corrected, and instructed in righteousness by this treatment of the theme. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Berry, Cicely. Your Voice and How to Use It: The Classic Guide to Speaking With Confidence. The voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, with some utterly unnecessary but would-be achingly cool vulgarity, gives helpful counsel on the right use of the voice. Quite technical at points, but something like this would help many of us with such things as pitch, tone, diction, variation, and a host of other pulpit failings that make us hard to hear or listen to. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Bickel, Bruce R. Light and Heat: The Puritan View of the Pulpit. Really two shorter books in one, Bruce Bickel mines Puritan preachers (and some of their successors) for their thoughts on preaching in the first part, weaving it profitably together. The second part is really a comparison of two different kinds of evangelism (Puritanism vs. Finneyism, in essence). There is lots here to stimulate, pointing the reader back beyond the Puritans to Scripture to see whether or not our convictions and the practices that flow from them are what they ought to be. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Blaikie, William Garden. For the Work of the Ministry. Setting out to be brief, complete and practical, Blaikie does a cracking job. One of the old school, in the best sense, treating the nature of the ministry, the call to it, the work of it, the character required in it, with all manner of homiletical and pastoral tips and hints along the way. Not all of its emphases and nuances need to be embraced to find this a real gem. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Bonar, Andrew. The Visitor’s Book of Texts: A Vital Tool for Pastoral Visitation. A very different little book, detailing the various cases which a visiting minister may find when he goes into a home or hospital (or wherever), giving some general counsels for approaching each instance, then highlighting a number of relevant texts, sometimes with thoughts or comments upon particular ones, all intended to help the visitor find appropriate Scriptures and well-directed words for ministering. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Bonar, Horatius. Words to Winners of Souls. An exercise in self-examination of a painful and profitable kind. Bonar deals not only with what we ought to be, but also exposes what we too often have been and remain. He searches the heart, probing and prodding, before pointing us to the remedies for many ministerial sins and the reviving of our hearts and the rejuvenation of our work. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Borgman, Brian. My Heart for Thy Cause: Albert N. Martin’s Theology of Preaching. An odd book, this, essentially consisting of the boiled-down essence of Al Martin’s lectures on preaching filtered through Borgman the redactor. While much of the profit remains of close attention to the Biblical material on preaching and pastoring, joined with telling and apposite quotes from past masters, it seems to me a book that loses too much in translation. There is much here that is profitable, and yet the book as a whole seems unsatisfactory because it is much less than it could have been. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Boston, Thomas. The Art of Manfishing. I think that this was the work of the young Boston intended solely for his own benefit. It therefore has the virtue of unfailing honesty, insofar as any man is honest with himself. There is no show, only a man dealing with his own soul. Boston considers the promise of Christ to make us fishers of men, then looks at the ministerial duty to pursue such a calling, before asking himself how to cultivate such an art. Good stuff. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Bridges, Charles. The Christian Ministry (with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency). Bridges was ridiculously young to have so much wisdom and insight when he wrote this. With very little of his own ecclesiology intruding, Bridges gives us an overview of the ministry before considering its inefficiency connected with general causes and with the pastor’s own character (guess which bit hurts the most?). He then moves on to give many corrective helps with regard to public and private or pastoral ministry. Deservedly recognised as a classic in its field. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Broadus, John A. (ed. E. C. Dargan). A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. As long as you get the right edition (the Dargan one) you are in for a sustained and meaty treat. A treasure-house of homiletical insights, Broadus ranges far and wide to give us a grand and focused overview of the sermon. Worthy of more attention in an age when the productions of the pulpit are so often bland and diffuse. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Brown, Charles. The Ministry. Another oldie but a goodie. Fairly short and sweet, again he deals with godly character (a signal failing of many newer works), an excellent treatment of public prayer, and some delightful thoughts on pulpit ministry. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Brown, John, of Edinburgh (comp.). The Christian Pastor’s Manual. A collection of addresses by various worthies. When looking at more modern collections, it is striking how some of the same topics concerning preaching come up time and again. Has the virtue of addressing the pastoral calling and character as much as the work of preaching. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

Bucer, Martin (trans. Peter Beale). Concerning the True Care of Souls. Bucer is one of the sleeping giants in Reformation studies, and this is the fruit of some twenty-five years of pastoral ministry, in which he sets out the nature of the work of a ‘carer of souls’ in the context of his doctrine of the church. The linking of these two is part of the genius of the whole, which abounds in good things. (Westminster / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Monergism)

The whole list so far is here.

Before you go to the pulpit . . .

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In the name of God, brethren, labor to awaken your own hearts, before you go to the pulpit, that you may be fit to awaken the hearts of sinners. Remember they must be awakened or damned, and . . . a sleepy preacher will hardly awaken drowsy sinners. Though you give the holy things of God the highest praise in words, yet, if you do it coldly, you will seem by your manner to unsay what you said in the matter. . . . Speak to your people as to men that must be awakened, either here or in hell. Look around upon them with the eye of faith, and with compassion, and think in what a state of joy or torment they must all be for ever; and then, methinks, it will make you earnest, and melt your heart to a sense of their condition.

Richard Baxter, quoted in J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness (Wheaton, 1990), 279.

HT: Ray Ortlund.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 12 March 2011 at 19:46

Posted in Pastoral theology

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Seeking rest

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From Richard Baxter’s The Saints’ Everlasting Rest some counsels on helping others to seek the rest that the saints enjoy:

Has God set before us such a wonderful possession as the saints’ everlasting rest, and made us capable of such unimaginable happiness? Why, then, don’t all of the children of this kingdom exert themselves more to help others to enjoy it? We see the glory of the kingdom, while others around us do not. We see the misery of those that are out of it, while others do not. And yet we will not seriously show them their danger and help to bring them into this eternal life. How few Christians there are who give themselves with all their might to save souls! Considering how important this duty is to the glory of God and the happiness of men, I will first show how to do it.

Our hearts must be moved by the misery of other people. We must be compassionate towards them. If we earnestly longed for their conversion, and sincerely desired the best for them; it would put us to work, and God would bless such effort.

We must take every opportunity that we can to instruct others in the way of salvation. Teach them their need of the Redeemer; how Christ mercifully bore their penalty on the cross. Teach them the privileges which believers have in Christ. Show them how wonderful heaven will be. Be sure to urge them to make use of all the ways God has provided for our help—such as hearing and reading the Bible, calling upon God in prayer, and having fellowship with other Christians. Persuade them to forsake sin, avoid temptations and evil companions.

Aim at the glory of God in another person’s salvation. Don’t do it for your own credit or to attract followers; but do it in obedience to Christ and out of tender love for other people’s souls. Do it promptly too. That physician is no better than a murderer, who negligently delays treating a patient until he is dead or incurable. Let others perceive that it is your desire to help them; that you have no other motive in mind but their everlasting happiness. Say to them, “Friend, you know I have nothing to gain in this. The easiest way to please you and keep your friendship would be to say nothing and leave you alone; but love will not let me see you perish, and remain silent. I only seek your own happiness. You are the one who will gain if you come to Christ.”

Do it plainly and faithfully. Don’t play down the seriousness of their sins, nor give them false hopes. If you see their situation is dangerous, speak plainly. Say to them, “Friend, if you were ‘in Christ,’ you would be ‘a new creature; old things’ would be ‘passed away, and all things’ would ‘become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17). You would have new thoughts, new friends, and a new life.” Thus you must deal honestly with people, if you ever intend to help them. It is not in pleasing people that you help them.

Do it seriously, enthusiastically, and effectively. Try to make people know that heaven and hell are not matters to be played with, or dismissed with a few careless thoughts. To avoid extremes, I advise you to do it with discretion. Choose the most appropriate time. Don’t deal with people when they are angry or on the defensive. When the earth is soft the plough will enter. Take a person when he is in trouble, or when he is freshly moved by a sermon. Christian faithfulness requires us to watch for opportunities.

Let all your words be backed with the authority of God. Let sinners be convinced that you do not speak merely your own thoughts. They may reject your opinions even though they would not dare reject the words of the Almighty. Try to bring all of your conversation to a verdict. God usually blesses those whose hearts are set upon the conversion of their hearers and who therefore seek a decision.

Be sure your life witnesses as well as your words. Let people see you practicing what you seek to persuade them about. Let them see, by your attitude toward heaven and the world, that you do indeed believe what you would have them believe.

Besides privately witnessing, you should try to help people through the church. Use your influence to secure faithful ministers, for “how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Many souls may be saved by the ministry which you have helped to secure for the church. What immense good might men of means do, if they would support the ministerial education of carefully chosen youth until they were ready for the ministry. You can also draw people to attend the services where faithful ministers preach the Gospel. Do your part to keep the church and its ministry in good repute, for no one will be affected much by that which he disdains. The apostle urged, concerning those who are over us in the Lord, “to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess. 5:13).

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 20 May 2010 at 14:47

Questions for reading

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Martin Downes gleans some questions from Richard Baxter to ask oneself while reading:

1. Could I spend this time no better?

2. Are there better books/blogs that would edify me more?

3. Are the lovers of such a book/blog as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?

4. Does this book/blog increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

[From the Banner of Truth Magazine, July 1958]

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 18 July 2008 at 10:18

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