Posted by: chuckbumgardner | May 8, 2008

Baxter on the Oversight of the Flock

Every pastor ought to read Richard Baxter.  (I’m glad my pastor has!)  Here are a few selections from The Reformed Pastor, ed. William Brown (1656; paperback reprint, Banner of Truth, 1974)  chapter two, “The oversight of the flock,” section two, “The manner of this oversight”:

Hard studies, much knowledge, and excellent preaching, if the ends be not right, is but more glorious hypocritical sinning. (111)

Some desire to know merely for the sake of knowing and that is shameful curiosity.  Some desire to know that they may sell their knowledge, and that too is shameful.  Some desire to know for reputation’s sake, and that is shameful vanity.  But there are some who desire to know that they may edify others, and that is praiseworthy; and there are some who desire to know that they themselves may be edified, and that is wise. (111-12, quoting Bernard)

Throughout the whole course of our ministry, we must insist chiefly upon the greatest, most certain, and most necessary truths, and be more seldom and sparing upon the rest.  If we can but teach Christ to our people, we shall teach them all. (113)

All our teaching must be as plain and simple as possible.  This doth best suit a teacher’s ends.  He that would be understood must speak to the capacity of his hearers. . . . If you would not teach men, what do you in the pulpit?  If you would, why do you not speak so as to be understood? (115)

Most men judge of the counsel, as they judge of the affection of him that gives it. (118 )

I know not how it is with others, but the most reverent preacher, that speaks as if he saw the face of God, doth more affect my heart, though with common words, than an irreverent man with the most exquisite preparations. (119)

. . . he preacheth not heartily to his people that prayeth not earnestly for them. (122)


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