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    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Prideful Pastor

Richard Baxter speaks here of pastors who hold their dignity and intellect in too high esteem. They consider themselves (though they would never admit it) the final arbiter of what God wants of the church and its people. Baxter writes:

[Pastors beware that] so high are our spirits, that when it becomes a duty to any man to reprove or contradict us, we are commonly impatient both of the matter and of the manner. We love the man that will say as we say, and be of our opinion, and promote our reputation, though he is less worthy of our love in other respects; but he is ungrateful to us that contradicts us, and differs from us, and that deals plainly with us in our miscarriages, and telleth us of our faults!” Especially in the management of our public arguings, where the eye of the world is upon us, we can scarcely endure any contradiction or plain dealing. I know that railing language is to be abhorred, and that we should be as tender of each other’s reputation as our fidelity to the truth will permit: but our pride makes too many of us to think all men condemn us that do not admire us, yea, and admire all that we say, and submit their judgments to our most palpable mistakes! We are so tender, that no man can touch us scarcely but we are hurt; and so stout and high-minded, that a man can scarcely speak to us . . . And a man that is not versed in complimenting, and skilled in flattery above the vulgar rate, can scarcely tell how to handle them so observantly, and fit their expectations at every turn, but there will be some word or some neglect which their high spirits will fasten, and take as injurious to their honor: so that a plain countryman that speaks as he thinks must have nothing to do with them, unless he will be esteemed guilty of dishonoring them.

I confess I have often wondered at it, that this most heinous sin should be made so light of, and thought so consistent with a holy frame of heart and life, when far lesser sins are by ourselves proclaimed to be so damnable in our people! And more have I wondered to see the difference between ungodly sinners and godly preachers in this respect. When we speak to drunkards, worldlings, or any ignorant, unconverted men, we disgrace them as in that condition to the utmost, and lay it on as plainly as we can speak, and tell them of their sin, and shame, and misery: and we expect, not only that they should bear all patiently, but take all thankfully, and we have good reasons for all this; and most that I deal with do take it patiently; and many gross sinners will commend the closest preachers most, and will say that they care not for hearing a man that will not tell them plainly of their sins. But if we speak to a godly minister against his errors or any sin – if we honor them and reverence them, and speak as smoothly as we are able to speak – yea, if we mix commendations with our contradictions or reproofs, if the applause be not apparently predominant, so as to drown all the force of the reproof or confutation, and if it be not more an applause than a reprehension, they take it as an injury almost insufferable. . . .

Brethren, I know this is a sad and harsh confession; but that all this should be so among us, should be more grievous to us than to be told of it. Could this nakedness be hid, I should not have disclosed it, “We have dishonored ourselves by idolizing our honor” at least so openly in the view of all. But, alas! It is long ago open in the eyes of the world: we print our shame, and preach our shame, and tell it unto all. Some will think that I speak over charitably to call such persons godly men, in whom so great a sin doth so much prevail. I know where it is indeed predominant, and not hated, bewailed, and mortified in the man, there can be no true godliness; and I leave every man to a cautious jealousy and search of his own heart. But if all are graceless that are guilty of any, or many, or most of the aforementioned discoveries of pride, the Lord be merciful to the ministers of this land, and give us quickly another spirit; for grace is a rarer thing than most of us have supposed it to be. (From the book: The Reformed Pastor)

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  1. […] The Prideful Pastor (via Samuel at Gilgal) Richard Baxter speaks here of pastors who hold their dignity and intellect in too high esteem. They consider themselves (though they would never admit it) the final arbiter of what God wants of the church and its people. Baxter writes: [Pastors beware that] so high are our spirits, that when it becomes a duty to any man to reprove or contradict us, we are commonly impatient both of the matter and of the manner. We love the man that will say as we … Read More […]

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