What Distinguishes Christians From the World?

Gardiner Spring (1785-1873) wrote a valuable treatise in 1813 titled Essays on the Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character that has stood the test of time (it was republished by Northampton Press in 2010). 

In this collection of essays, Spring examines in the light of God's Word certain crucial aspects of the life of a Christian: conviction of sin, repentance, assurance, love to God and the brethren, faith, humility, self-denial, non-conformity to the world, practical obedience, growth in grace, and prayer. These fruits of the Spirit are indeed the distinguishing characteristics of Christians in a world which runs in the opposite direction, and they are to be sought after and cultivated in every Christian's life.

May this little book be a blessing and an encouragement to your Christian walk. 

It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming!

It is never too early (or too late) in the week to prepare for the Lord's Day. One valuable 19th century Presbyterian work that aimed to assist both ministers and church members in preparing to make the most of the day apart by God for his worship is Gardiner Spring (1785-1873)'s The Power of the Pulpit; or, Thoughts Addressed to Christian Ministers and Those Who Hear Them (1854). 

It is full of counsel to preachers concerning the highest task to which they are called as God's ambassadors, stressing the importance of personal piety for ministers, and a reliance upon the Holy Spirit in the work of the ministry. Spring puts the utmost stress of the need to view preaching of the gospel from the pulpit as a minister's highest duty, and consequently, he also highlights the need for church members to pray for their pastors, to give diligence to the hearing of God's Word, and consider that God's Word is being proclaimed to them. There are duties of the pulpit for ministers, and duties of the people who are present to give ear to God's Word. The counsel that Spring offers in regards to both comes from an experienced minister and with pastoral concern for the exaltation of Christ in the pulpit and in the hearts of the people. Be sure to download this work and read over it prayerfully as you seek to make the most of your next Lord's Day. 

What does the preacher need as he prepares to preach Sunday by Sunday? Gardiner Spring answers.

"Two things you will find indispensable to profitable preparations for the pulpit: prayer and
toil. You must be a man of prayer. Prayer will give you thought, tenderness, and a power of feeling which nothing else can give. Sermons are heartless, lifeless things that are not elaborate with prayer. The difficulties of your work, and your own weakness invite you to your closet. If you look to yourself only, all is darkness, discouragement and despair. We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be all of God. There is no substitute for Prayer. And you must consent to labour. There is no severer toil than the labours of the sacred ministry. Other men may rest; may retire from business and enjoy the fruits of their acquisitions; but there is no rest, no retirement for the minister of the gospel. The very Day of Rest of others, is a day of labour and solicitude with him. The duties of one Sabbath are scarcely fulfilled, and his thoughts are upon his preparations for another. And when he looks forward through life, he sees no end to his toil but in the grave. There is rest not until the battle is fought and the victory won."

-- Gardiner Spring, "Letter to a Young Clergyman," in Fragments from the Study of a Pastor (1838)