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The Duty Of A Pastor To His People 2 TIMOTHY 4:16 by John Gill

The Duty Of A Pastor To His People

2 TIMOTHY 4:16

by John Gill

(London: Aaron Ward, 1734)

Thou hast given a standard to them that fear thee;

that it may be displayed because of the truth

— Psalm 60:4


Preached At The Ordination Of The Reverend

George Braithwaite, M.A. March 28, 1734.


2 TIMOTHY 4:16

Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine;

for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself,

and them that hear thee.

THE part of the work of this day assigned to me, is to give a word of

exhortation to you, my Brother; who have been at this time solemnly

ordained a pastor or overseer of this church, Your tong standing, and

usefulness in the ministry, might justly excuse every thing of this kind, did

not: custom, and the nature of this day’s service, seem to require it. You

will there.. fore suffer a word of exhortation, though it comes from a junior

minister, since you know in what situation we are; our senior ministers are

gone off the stage of this world, who used to fill up this place, and whose

years best became it: Our fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do

they live for ever? Give me leave to address you in the words of the great

apostle of the Gentiles to Timothy, Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy

doctrine; for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself, and than that hear

thee; since this epistle was written, not for his sake only, but for the use

and service also of other ministers of the gospel in succeeding ages; that

they might know how they ought to behave themselves in the house of

God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.

In it the apostle gives a large account of the proper qualifications of the

officers of churches, bishops, and deacons; and in this chapter descends to

some particular advice and directions to Timothy, and which are designed

for the benefit and advantage of other preachers of the word, and pastors

of churches. I shall not take any notice of them here, seeing I shall have

occasion to make use of them in some parts of the following discourse; and

shall therefore immediately attend to the words of my text, in which may be


I. A charge or exhortation given to Timothy.

II. Some reasons to support it, and engage his regard unto it.

I. Here is a charge or exhortation given, which consists of three parts:

First, To take heed to himself.

Secondly, To take heed to his doctrine.

Thirdly, To continue therein.

First, The apostle exhorts Timothy to take heed to himself. This is not to

be understood of him merely as a man, that he should take care of his

bodily health, his outward concerns of life, or make provision for his

family, if he had any; not but that these things are to be equally regarded by

a minister of the gospel, as by any other person. Though he ought to be

diligent in his studies, laborious in his work, and preach, the gospel in

season and out of season; yet he ought to be careful of the health of his

body, and not destroy his natural constitution. The words of the wise man

are applicable to our present purpose,

be not righteous over-much, neither make thyself over-wise, why

shouldest thou destroy thyself? (


Ecclesiastes 7:16)

The apostle Paul, in this epistle, advises Timothy to take care of himself in

this sense, seeing he had much work upon his hands, and but of a weakly

constitution; he exhorts him, that he would

drink no longer water, but use a little wine, for his stomach’s sake,

and his often infirmities; (


1 Timothy 5:23)

and it is alike true of a minister as of any other man, what is elsewhere said,

If any provide not far his own, and especially for those of his own

house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.



1 Timothy 5:8)

But this is not what the apostle has here in view, when he says take heed to


Nor is this exhortation, given to Timothy under the character of a believer,

or private christian. There are some things which are common to ministers,

and. private Christians; their cases, in some respects, are alike, and.4

cautions to them are equally necessary: they have the same corruptions, are

subject to the same temptations, and liable to the same daily failings and

infirmities; and therefore such, whether ministers or people, who think they

stand, should take heed lest they fall. Unbelief, and distrust of divine

providence, presence, power, and assistance, have a place in the hearts of

ministers as well as others, and sometimes rise to a considerable pitch, and

do very much prevail; when such advice as this must be needful, take heed,

brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing

from the living God. There are many instances which might be produced,

in which this exhortation would appear to be suitable to Timothy, and so to

any other gospel minister, considered as a believer and a christian.

But I apprehend, that the apostle regards him in his ministerial capacity, as

a preacher of the word; and is desirous, that he would take heed to himself,

as a minister, and to the ministry which he had received in the Lord, that

he fulfill it. It becomes a minister of the gospel to take heed to his gifts

bestowed upon him, by which he is qualified for his work, that he does not

lose, but use and improve them; to his time, that he spends it aright, and

does not squander it away; of the errors and heresies which are in the

world, that he is not infected by them; to his spirit, temper, and passions,

that he is not governed by them; to his life and conversation, that it be

exemplary, becoming his office, and makes for the glory of God; and to the

flock committed to his care, which is the other part of himself.

1. A minister ought to take heed to his gifts bellowed upon him, whereby

he is qualified for the work of the ministry. Jesus Christ, when he ascended

on high, received gifts for men, such as were proper to furnish, and fit them

for ministerial service; and he has given them to men,

he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists,

and some parlors, and teachers: (


Ephesians 4:11)

that is, he gave gifts, to qualify them for these several offices; and he still

continues to give gifts to some, by which they become capable of

discharging the work and office of pastors of churches; and where these

are given, they ought to be taken care of.

Now, a minister of the gospel should take heed to his gifts, that he does

not lose them.

The gifts, and calling of God are without repentance.



Romans 11:29).5

Gifts of special and saving grace are irreversible; God never repents of

them, or revokes them, or calls them in; where they are once bestowed,

they are never taken away; but gifts fitting men for public work and

usefulness, as they may be where true grace is not, so they may be

removed, when saving grace never will. This we may learn from the

parable of the talents, where our Lord says,

Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which hath

ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall

have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away

even that which be hath. (


Matthew 25:29, 30)

Wo therefore to the Idol Shepherd, (


Zechariah 11:17)

the shepherd of no account, who is good for nothing; for an idol is nothing

in the world; who leaveth the flock, makes no use of his gifts, deserts his

station, forsakes the flock; the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his

right eye; his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be

utterly darkened. All his light and knowledge, his abilities and usefulness,

shall be taken from him. Hence the apostle exhorts Timothy, to keep by the

holy Ghost the good thing which was committed to him; by which he

means, not grace, but either the gospel, or the gift of preaching it; grace

cannot, gifts may be lost.

Moreover, a gospel minister should take heed to his gifts, that he uses them

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, says the apostle to Timothy;

which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands

of the presbytery. (


1 Timothy 4:14)

A minister may be tempted to neglect, lay aside, and disuse his gifts, for

want of success in his work, or because of the flight and contempt which

may be cast upon him, or by reason of the rage, fury, and persecutions of

men; something of this nature was discouraging to Timothy in the exercise

of his gifts, which occasioned the apostle to

put him in remembrance, that, says he, thou stir up the gift of God:

which is in thee, by the putting on of my. hands; far God hath not

given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound

mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,

nor of me his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the

gospel, according to the power of God. (


2 Timothy 1:6-8).6

As if he should say, “Let not that gift which God has bestowed upon thee

lie dormant, and be neglected by thee, through a timorous and cowardly

spirit; but boldly and bravely preach the gospel of the grace of God, though

thou art sure to endure much affliction and persecution.” Wo to that man,

who, from any consideration whatever, wraps up his talent in a napkin, and

hides it in the earth; such an one Christ, at the great day of account, will

call wicked and slothful ; and give orders to

cast such an unprofitable servant into outer darkness, where shall

be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (


Matthew 25:26, 30).

Besides, a minister ought not only to take heed that he uses his gifts, but

also that he improves them; and indeed, they are generally improved by

using. Gifts, like pieces of armor, through disuse, grow rusty,


but the

more they are worn the brighter they are. There are several things, which

have a tendency to improve, and, with the blessing, of God, do improve

spiritual gifts, such as prayer, meditation, and reading. These the apostle

directed Timothy to, for the improvement of his mind:

Till I come says he, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to

doctrine; (


1 Timothy 4:15)

meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them, (Us toutoiv

iodei) or, be thou in them; be constantly intent upon them, that thy

profiting may appear to all, (Ev pasin) or in all things, that is, in all parts

of useful knowledge. It is the duty of ministers to stir up the gift of God

which is in them. (


2 Timothy 1:6) Gifts are sometimes like coals of fire,

covered and buried in ashes, to which there is an allusion in this passage,


which must be stirred up, or blown off, that they may revive and be re-inflamed,

and so communicate more light and heat. It is true, ministers

cannot procure gifts for themselves, nor increase them of themselves; but

God is pleased to give to his servants greater abilities, more light and

knowledge, in the diligent use of means, for unto every one that hath, that

is, that has gifts, and makes use of all proper methods to improve them,

shall be given, and he shall have abundance.

2. A minister ought to take heed to his time, that he spends it aright, and

does not squander it away. Time is precious, and ought to be redeemed,

and diligently improved, by all sorts of men; but by none more than the

ministers of the gospel, who should spend it in frequent prayer, constant

meditation, and in daily reading the scriptures, and the writings of good.7

men; which are transmitted to posterity for the benefit and advantage of the

churches of Christ. They should give themselves up wholly to these things,

and daily, and diligently study to shew themselves

approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly

dividing the word of truth. (


2 Timothy 2:25)

They ought not to spend their time in an unprofitable manner, or in

needless and unnecessary visits. It is a mistake which prevails among

church-members, that they must be visited, and that very often: if ministers

are not continually calling on them they think themselves neglected, and are

much displeased; not considering, that Ouch a frequency of visits, as is

desired by them, must be the bane and ruin of what might otherwise be a

very valuable ministry; and at the same time furnishes an idle and lazy

preacher with a good excuse to neglect his studies, and that with a great

deal of peace and quietness of conscience, whilst he fancies he is about his

ministerial work. I would not be understood, as though I thought that visits

were needless things, and that they are no part of a minister’s work: I am

sensible, that he ought to be diligent to know the state of his flock; and that

it is his business to visit the members of the church, at proper times, and on

proper occasions; what I complain of, is the too great frequency of visits as

is desired, and when they are unnecessary.

3. A minister ought to take heed to himself, that he is not infected with the

errors and heresies which are in the world. There always have been, and

still are, heretics among men, and there must be; that they which are

approved, are faithful and approved ministers of Christ, might be made

manifest, to the churches, and the world, by their zeal for truth, and against

error. And whereas ministers, as well as others, are liable to have their

minds corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, and to be led away

with the error of the wicked, and for all from their own stedfastness; it

becomes them therefore, to take heed to themselves. This was the reason

of the apostle’s advice to the elders of the church at Ephesus, at his taking

his leave of them; when he said to them, take heed to yourselves, and to all

the flock: — for, says he, I know this, that after my departing, shall

grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock; also of your

own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away

disciples after them. Take heed, beware therefore, of these perverse men

and things, left you also be drawn after them, and be carried away by them.

Our Lord Jesus Christ thought it necessary to exhort his own disciples, to.8

beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees; and to take heed,

that they were not deceived by false Christs, and false prophets. Ministers,

of all men, ought to be most careful to shun error, and avoid false

doctrines; since their seduction may be the means of a greater spread of

them, and of the ruin of multitudes of souls.

4. A minister ought to take heed to his spirit, his temper, and his passions,

that he is not governed by them. The preachers of the gospel are men of

like passions with others: Some of Christ’s disciples were very hot, fiery,

and passionate; they were for calling for fire from heaven to consume such

who had displeased them; hence our Lord said unto them,

Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. (


Luke 9:55)

One that has the government of his passions, and can rule his own spirit

and temper, is very fit to rule in the church of God.

He that is flow to anger, is better than the mighty; and he that

ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh, a city. (


Proverbs 16:32)

But if a man is influenced and governed by his passions, he will be led by

them to take indirect and imprudent steps; and to manage affairs with

partiality, to the prejudice of the church, and members of it.

5. A minister ought to take heed to his life and conversation, that it be

exemplary to those who are under his care. Private Christians may, and

ought to be examples one to another; they should be careful to maintain,



Titus 3:8) or go before each other in good works; but

more especially, ministers ought to be examples to the flock. This is the

advice the apostle gave Timothy ;

be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in

charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (


1 Timothy 4:12).

They ought to be careful how they behave themselves in their families, in

the church, and in the world; that they give no offense in any thing, that

the ministry be not blamed, and so become useless and unprofitable. This

was what the apostle Paul was careful of, with respect to himself, and his


I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.



1 Corinthians 9:27).9

I do not indulge, but deny myself all carnal lusts and pleasures, left that by

any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away;

that is, not one rejected of God, or a reprobate; for he knew whom

he had believed, and was persuaded, that nothing could separate him from

the love of God;. he had no fearful apprehensions of this kind; though he

was jealous and cautious, left: he should be guilty of misconduct in his

outward conversation among men; and so become adokimov rejected, and

disapproved of by men, and be useless in his ministry. Every Christian

ought to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, but most especially the

preachers of it their lights should so shine before men, that they seeing

their good works, may glorify their father which is in heaven. The name of

God, the ways of Christ, and the truths of the gospel, are blasphemed, and

spoken evil of, through the scandalous lives of professors, and especially

ministers. Nothing is more abominable


than that one, whose business it is

to instruct and reprove others, is himself notoriously culpable; to such a

person and case, the words of the apostle are very applicable,

Thou therefore that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?

Thou that preachest, a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou

that sayest, a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit,

adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law

dishonorest thou God? for the name of God is blasphemed among

the Gentiles through you. (


Romans 2:21-24).

6. A minister ought to take heed to the flock, committed to his care; which

is but the other part of himself. There is a mutual relation, a close union,

between a pastor and, a church; they are in some, sense one, and, their

interests are one; so that. a pallor, by taking heed to himself takes heed to

his flock, and by taking heed to his flock takes heed to himself, Hence

these two are joined together in the apostle’s advice to the elders of the

church at Ephesus,

Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the

holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church.



Acts 20:28).

Pastors of churches should be careful that they feed the saints with

knowledge and understanding; that they feed. the flock, and not

themselves; that they perform the whole office of faithful shepherds to

them; that they strengthen the diseased, heal the sick, bind up the broken,.10

bring again that which was driven away, and seek up that which was lost;

all which they should take diligent heed unto, since they must be

accountable to the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, for all those who

are under their care. But so much for the first branch of the exhortation; I

proceed to consider,

Secondly, The second part of the charge, which is to take heed to his

doctrine, that is, to the doctrine to which he has attained, which he has a

knowledge of, and ought to preach to others; otherwise the doctrine is not

his own but another’s; as Christ says of himself as man,

My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (


John 7:16)

Christ received his doctrine from his Father, and his ministers receive it

from him, and deliver it to the people. The doctrine which a gospel minister

preaches, is in the same sense his, in which the apostle Paul calls the

gospel, my gospel, or our gospel; not that it was a system of doctrines

drawn up, and composed by him; but what was given him by the revelation

of Christ, was committed to his trust, what he ought to preach, and in

which he was made useful to the souls of many.

Now a minister ought to take heed to his doctrine, that it be according to

the scriptures,

all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for

doctrine, (


2 Timothy 3:16)

True doctrine springs from it, is agreeable to it, and may be confirmed and

established by it; therefore

if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God



1 Peter 4:11)

He should be careful, that his doctrine has a place in the word of God, that

it takes its rise from it, is consonant to it, and capable of being proved by


To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this

word, it is because there is no light in them. (


Isaiah 8:20)

Whatever doctrines do not spring from these fountains of light and truth,

or are disagreeable to them, must be accounted divers and strange


Care should also be taken by a minister of the gospel, that his doctrine be

the doctrine of Christ; that is, such as Christ himself preached, which he

has delivered out by revelation to others, and of which he is the sum and


We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to

the Greeks foolishness. (


1 Corinthians 1:23)

This doctrine is most likely to be useful for the conversion of sinners, and

comfort of saints; and a man that does not bring this with him is to be

discouraged and rejected

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,

hath not God: He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath

both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring

not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him

God-speed. (


2 John 9,10).

Moreover, a minister should take heed that his doctrine be the same with

that of the apostles. It was the glory of the primitive christians, that they

continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine; and it must be the excellency

of a man’s ministry, that it is agreeable to that faith which was once

delivered to the saints. Jesus Christ received his doctrine from his Father,

which he delivered to his apostles:

I have given unto them says he, the words which thou gavest me,

and they have received them; (


John 17:8)

who also were guided by the spirit of truth into all truth, as it is in Jesus;

and under the inspiration of the same spirit have left the whole of it in

writing to the churches of Christ; which should be the standard of a gospel-ministry

throughout all generations.

Besides, it becomes a preacher of the Word to be careful that the doctrine

he teaches be according to godliness; that it is not contrary to the moral

perfections of God, or has a tendency to promote a loose and licentious

life; but that it is agreeable to, and may be a means of increasing, both

internal and external holiness. Sin, as it is a transgression of the law, so it is

contrary to sound doctrine; which sound doctrine is

according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God.



1 Timothy 1:10, 11).12

The gospel no more countenances sin, than the law does; the grace of God,

the doctrine of the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, the news of it to

sinners, hath appeared to all men, Gentiles as well as Jews; teaching us,

that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly,

righteously, and godly in this present world. Whatever doctrines are

subversive of true piety, or strike at the life and power of godliness, are to

be rejected:

if any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words,

even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which

is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting

about questions, and strife of words, whereof cometh envy, strifes,

railings, evil furnishings, etc. (


1 Timothy 6:3-5).

Again, it is highly necessary, that a pastor of a church should be careful

that his doctrine be such as makes for the edification of the people; it ought

to be solid and substantial, suited to their capacities, and what is food

convenient for them; he should nor, therefore, give heed to fables, and

endless genealogies; he ought, in his ministry, to shun prophane and vain

bablings, and oppositions of silence, fairly so called. He should not strive

about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers; and should

carefully and diligently

avoid foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they do

gender strifes. (


1 Timothy 1:4;




2 Timothy 2:14, 16,


In a word, he should take heed, that his doctrine be found and incorrupt,

pure. and unmixed, and that it be all of a piece, and consistent with itself.

He ought to speak the things which become sound, doctrine; that is, such

things as are agreeable to it, and consistent with it, and which are

wholesome and healthful to the souls of men. In his doctrine he ought to

shew uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, and use

sound speech, which cannot be condemned; (


Titus 2:1, 7, 8)

he should not teach for doctrines the commandments of men, or join, or

mix divine truths with human inventions. The chaff and the wheat should

be kept separate; nor should he blend law and gospel, grace and works

together; and so be like them that corrupt the word of God,

kaphleuontev ton logon tou Qeou, “adulterate it, by mixing it with

their own fancies;” as unfair dealers in liquors mix water with them, which.13

is the sense of the word here used; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the

sight of God,


should a gospel-minister speak in Christ. He ought to take

heed that what he preaches is consistent with itself; that it has no yea and

nay, no contradiction in it, and does not destroy itself; and so bring a

reproach upon him, and he become useless to his hearers;

for if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare

himself for the battle? (


1 Corinthians 14:8)

consistence, harmony, and connection of things with each other, are the

beauty and glory of a man’s ministry; which must needs recommend it, and

make it most useful, profitable and pleasant.

It is also very adviseable that he take heed that he express his doctrine in

the best manner, and to the best advantage. He ought to be careful about

the manner as well as the matter of his ministry; that he speak plainly,

intelligibly, and boldly, the gospel, as it ought to be spoken: Elocution,

which is a gift of utterance, a freedom of expression, with propriety of

language, is one of the gifts fitting for public usefulness in the work of the

ministry; and which may be improved by the use of proper means. The

example of the royal preacher is worthy of our imitation,

because the preacher was wise he still taught the people

knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in

order many proverbs: the preacher sought to find out acceptable

words; and that which was written was upright, even words of

truth: (


Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10)

he not only fought for proper and agreeable truths, but was careful to

express them in the most acceptable manner.

To conclude this head; when a minister has used his care and diligence

about his doctrine, that it be according to the scriptures, agreeable to the

doctrine of Christ and his apostles; that it be according to godliness, and

makes for the use of edifying; that it be found and incorrupt, pure and

unmixed, and consistent with itself; and that it be expressed in the best

manner, and to the best advantage, he ought to take heed to defend it

whenever opposed; for ministers are not only set to preach the gospel, but

for the defense of it; they should by sound doctrine both exhort and

convince gainsayers; (


Titus 1:8) for which purpose; they should use the

two-edged sword, the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; and is.14

both an offensive and defensive weapon, by which, at once, error is

refuted, and truth established, I go on to consider,

Thirdly, The third part of this exhortation, which is to continue in them.

Some read the words, Continue with them, (Epimene autoiv) that is, with

the people at Ephesus, where Timothy was, and where the apostle would

have him remain; as appears from what he says to him at the beginning of

this epistle,

I besought thee to abide hill at Ephesus. (



But I choose rather to consider them as they are in our translation

rendered, continue in them; that is, in the doctrines which thou dost well to

take heed unto. Much such advice does the apostle give to Timothy, in his

second epistle to him, continue thou, says he, in the things which thou hast

learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned

them. It is very unbecoming ministers of the word, to be like children

tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; daily shifting sides, and

changing sentiments.

He that would be a preacher of the gospel to others, ought so to study the

scriptures, and learn the doctrines of grace, as to be assured of them, to

beat a point, at a certainty concerning them; that he may be able to speak

them boldly, as they ought to be spoken; and when he has so done, he

ought to adhere to them, abide by them, and continue in them; even though

a majority may be against them, for we are not to follow a multitude to do

evil. (


Exodus 23:2) Truth is not to be judged of by the number of its

admirers; if this was a sure and safe rule to go by, the church of Rome

would have the best pretensions to the truth of doctrine, discipline, and

worship; for all the worm wondered after the beast. (


Revelation 13:3)

It should be no discouragement to a gospel-minister to observe, that there

are but few that receive the doctrines of grace. Yea, he should abide by

them, though they are opposed by men of learning and reputation. Truth

does not always lie among men of that character; God is pleased to hide

the mysteries of the gospel from the wise and prudent, and reveal them

unto babes; and by the foolishness of preaching confound the wife, and

save them that believe. It was an objection to our Lord’s ministry, that not

any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him; but this people

who knoweth not the law are cursed. (


John 7:48, 49)..15

Ministers of the gospel should abide by, and continue in the doctrines of it,

though it is only received by the poor and ignorant, and opposed by the

rich and wife: Nay, they ought to do so, though there are some things in

them which cannot be comprehended by corrupt and carnal reason; this

should be no objection to a reception of them, or continuance in them.

There are some things in the gospel which eye hath not seen, nor ear

heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, that is, a natural man, to

conceive of; wherefore it is no wonder,

that the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God,

for they are foolishness unto him, neither can be know them,

because they are spiritually discerned. (


1 Corinthians 2:9-14).

Nor should the charges and imputations of novelty and licentiousness

frighten and deter the ministers of Christ from abiding by the doctrines of

grace, since there were the very reproaches and calumnies that the

doctrines of Christ and his apostles were loaded with, What thing is this?

What new doctrine is this? Say some concerning Christ’s ministry;



Mark 1:27,


Acts 17:19) and so the Athenians to Paul, May we

know what this new doctrine whereof thou speakest is? They looked upon

the more substantial truths of the gospel as novelties, upstart notions, such

as were never heard of before; nay, they were accounted by same as having

a tendency to open a door to all manner of wickedness and looseness of

life; which occasioned the apostle to say,

And not rather; as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm,

that we say, Let us do evil that good may come; whose damnation

is just. (


Romans 3:8).

In a word, it becomes Christ’s ministers to, abide by, and continue in the

doctrines of grace, though they risk their good name, credit, and

reputation, are in danger of losing their outward maintenance, or worldly

substance, yea, life itself;

for whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall

lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.



Mark 8:35)

I now hasten briefly to consider,.16

II. The reasons given by the apostle to support the whole of this charge or

exhortation; and to engage Timothy’s, and so every other gospel-minister’s,

regard unto it.

First, His first reason is, For is doing this thou shalt save thyself. Jesus

Christ is the only efficient and procuring cause of salvation:

There is no salvation in any other; say there is none other name

under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.



Acts 4:12)

Ministers cannot save themselves by any works of righteousness done. by

them; no, not by their ministerial, services; it is in vain to expect salvation,

by any, or from any other than Christ Jesus: But ministers, by taking heed

to themselves, may, through a divine blessing, and the influences of the

Spirit of God, save themselves from an untoward generation, and be

preferred from the pollutions of the world; may keep their garments, their

outward conversation garments, so that they do not walk naked, and others

see their shame. By taking heed to their doctrine they may save themselves

from being infected with false doctrines, errors and heresies: those roots of

bitterness, which springing up in churches, trouble same, and defile others,

And by continuing in their doctrines, may save themselves from the blood

of all men, with whom they are concerned. The work of a minister is an

awful, solemn, and weighty one; if he does not warn and instruct both the

righteous and the wicked, their blood will be required at his hand; but if he

perform his office faithfully, he delivers his soul, that is, he saves himself

from such a charge against him; as did the apostle Paul, who could say,

I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have not shunned to

declare unto you all the counsel of God. (


Acts 20:26, 27)

Thus, by a minister’s taking heed to himself and to his doctrine, and

continuing therein, he saves himself from all just blame in his character and

office; and may be truly accounted a

good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith,

and of good doctrine, whereunto he hath attained. (


1 Timothy


Secondly, His other reason is, thou shalt also save them that hear thee;

that is, by being an example to them both in word and conversation, thou

shalt be the means of preferring them both from erroneous principles and.17

immoral practices; or, thou shalt be instrumental in their eternal salvation.

Ministers are instruments by whom souls believe, and so are saved; the

word preached by them being, by the grace of the spirit, an engrafted

word, is able to save them; and the gospel being attended with the

demonstration of the spirit; is the power of God unto salvation. What can,

or does, more strongly engage ministers to take heed to themselves, to

their doctrine, and abide therein, than this? That they may be useful in the

conversion, and so in the salvation of precious and immortal souls, which

are of more worth than a world:

He that converteth a firmer from the error of his way, shall save a

soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (


James 5:20)

A hopeful view of this supports ministers in their work, and carries them

cheerfully through many difficulties that attend it; for such souls whom

they have been useful to, will be their joy, and crown of rejoicing, in the

great day of the Lord. These reasons, I trust, will engage you, my Brother,

who have been this day set apart to the pastoral office in this church, in

take heed to yourself, your gifts, time, temper, life and conversation, and to

the flock now committed to your care: And I conclude, that these will also

engage you to take heed to your doctrine; that it be according to the

scriptures, the doctrine of Christ, his apostles, and true godliness; and such

as will be profitable to them that hear it; that it be found and incorrupt,

pure and unmixed, and consistent with itself; that it be delivered out in the

best manner you are able, and defended, to the utmost of your ability, by

which you will abide, and in which you will continue: In doing this you will

be most likely to be instrumental in the conversion of sinners, and

edification of saints. God give success to all your ministrations.




Adde, quod ingenium longa rubigine laesum Torpet, — Ovid.


Verbum anazwpurrein etiam modeste cum officii admonet. Signiticat

autem ignem cineribus tectum excitare, sopitam savillam in flammam

proferre. Asetius in


2 Timothy 1:6. In the same sense as here is the

word used in Marc. Antonin. dc seipfo. 1. 7. f. 2. Vid. Gataker.

Annotat, in ibid.


Quae culpare soles, ea tu ne feceris ipse; Turpe est doctori, cam culpa

redarguit ipsum. CATO.

ft4 <470217>

2 Corinthians 2:17. kaphleountev Metaphora sumpta est ab

hospitibus & caupouantibus, quibus in more est, vinum aqua

corrumpere. Sic Graeci interpretantar, kaphleuein, kakeuein ton

oikon, hoc est vinum corrumpere, & phlon, dicunt olim significaviffe

oinon vinum. Aretius in loc.



Don’t Call Me REVEREND! by E. G. Cook


Don’t Call Me REVEREND!
by E. G. Cook
(Birmingham, Alabama)

If a person insists on being true to the Scriptures in our day he can expect opposition and persecution on every hand. Old Satan who is the god of this world has set his standards for even Baptist preachers to conform to. And they must conform to those standards or else be ready to suffer the consequences. Our dear Lord has set up His standards for just about everything that pertains to the Christian’s life and action. But the old devil has his substitutes for everyone of them. And many of his substitutes seem to be so reasonable they actually sound logical. He is even capable of lulling us into a state of spiritual stupor to the extent we may promote his substitutes and still think we are in the strait and narrow way.

But when we fail to walk in accordance with the standards set forth in the Scriptures we are in open rebellion against God. In I Samuel 15, God told Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites along with all their possession, but Saul and his men thought it would be better for them to keep the choicest sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord. Certainly that sounds logical. So this they did, but in verse 23, God called it rebellion. Any time we do something in a way different from the way the Scriptures say do it we are rebelling against God. And Deuteronomy 31:24-27 tells us that God’s Word is a witness against those who rebel against Him. Saul learned to his sorrow that doing a thing a different way from what God said do it is rebellion. That is true regardless of how convenient or how logical our way seems to be.

With that in mind let us see what title God’s Word gives to His preachers. A God-called Baptist preacher should be an example for others to follow. His life and actions should be in accord with the Scripture. His title should be one that is Scriptural. And anyone who desires to do so can easily find what title is Scriptural for a preacher to wear. In Acts 14:23 we read, „And when they had ordained them elders in every church,” and in Titus 1:5 Paul tells Titus to ordain elders in every city in Crete. We can safely assume that churches had been organized in every city on the island of Crete. Now Paul tells Titus to ordain elders in each of these cities.

We find bishops in the New Testament churches, but I do not know of any instance where a bishop was ordained. It would appear that when an elder was called by a church as her pastor he was called a bishop in order to distinguish him from other elders who might be in that church. But the only examples that I can find in the Bible concerning the ordaining of Baptist preachers (that was the only kind of preachers in that day) is that of elders. I have heard the title of elder objected to because that title is worn by Hardshells. But I have never heard the title of reverend objected to because it is worn by Holy Rollers.

In Isaiah 14:13-14 we find Lucifer all puffed up with pride as he tells us of the wonderful things he was going to do. And the climax of them all was „I will be like the Most High.” As a result of this he became just the opposite of the Most High. Still he has never stopped trying to be like the Most High in all outward appearances. Only one time in all the Bible do we find the title reverend. In Psalm 111:9 we find it applied to God Himself. Old Satan cannot wear God’s title himself, but if he can get some of the Lord’s own preachers to wear it, he feels he has been a success after all. I most certainly do not mean to say that Baptist preachers who wear the title of reverend are intentionally trying to „be like the Most High.” But if I were to assume that title for myself, I fully believe that is the way God would consider it.

So far as I am able to learn, the title reverend was never used in connection with a mere man for at least fourteen hundred years after all those elders were ordained in New Testament times. The word reverend in Psalm 111:9 comes from the Hebrew word YARE. This word is used more than 300 times in the Scriptures, but only one time is it translated reverend. Other meanings of this word YARE are „dreadful, feared, terrible.” The title terrible would seem to fit some preachers I know better than reverend.

According to the Oxford Universal Dictionary the title of reverend was first applied to persons of age and character in 1449. In 1485 the deans in the Catholic Church were given the title of „Very Reverend” and the bishops were called „Right Reverend.” God’s title was „Reverend,” so in order for the deans and the bishops to be more highly honored than God, they used „Very Reverend” for the deans and „Right Reverend” for the bishops. It would seem that by this time man would have been satisfied just to leave God that far behind. But it seems there is no limit to man’s carnal desires, not only to be like the most High, but to go beyond Him.

So in 1642 the Arch-Bishops began to be called „Most Right Reverend.” Just how much more reverend can you be than that? Three years later in 1645 just exactly two hundred years before the Southern Baptist Convention was born, the title of reverend was applied to the clergy as a whole. The Catholic Church had already taken over the matter of saving people. They just dash a little water on a person’s head, and there you have it. That is so much more comfortable than hanging on a tree for six hours by means of nails driven through the hands and feet. Then they had already taken over the matter of forgiving sins. If you have the money, I understand you can have the sins you have already committed forgiven, and even the ones you plan to commit next weekend. Surely they have the most convenient religion in all the world. Now that they had taken over God’s function in the matter of saving people and forgiving their sins, it was a little thing for them to take over His title. All this will culminate in the man of sin in II Thessalonians 2:34. But if you notice in Revelation 19:20 our Lord does not even go to the trouble of killing that old rascal. He just casts him into the lake of fire alive.

There are two undeniable and indisputable facts found in the New Testament concerning the title for a preacher. One is that the title of elder is Scriptural. The other is that somebody has substituted another title for the one God gave to His preachers. So it seems to me that if Baptist preachers would investigate the origin of their title, they would prefer the one given to them in God’s Word rather than one given to them by the Catholic Church. If Baptists would discard all the junk the Catholic Church has sold them through the centuries, they would find they had a lot more room for Bible truth.



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