The closet is where heart-work is carried forward - Thomas Murphy

(Receive our blog posts in your email by clicking here. If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

A work that begins in the heart must be carried on in the closet. If we speak of the closet as the place where a person engages in private prayer, communion with God, and a place of honest soul-searching with God, then we may say, the closet is where heart-work is carried forward. Thomas Murphy elucidates this thought early in his classic work on Pastoral Theology.

The pastor’s own heart is the place in which the work must begin. His closet is the armory in which he must equip himself for the service that may require great hardness. It is the mount where he may tarry in the presence of God, and thence come down with glory beaming in his face. It is the upper room in which he may commune with Christ and obtain that burning love that will ever sweetly constrain. It is the mercy-seat, made so by the divine presence, where the Holy Spirit may overshadow him and imbue him with a wisdom and a might that will be irresistible. It is the secret place in which he may find his God, and then go out fortified to a work from which he might otherwise well shrink, saying, " Who is sufficient for these things?"

If you have not read Thomas Murphy’s Pastoral Theology, it contains much more wisdom that is often just as applicable to the Christian layman as to the minister of the gospel, both for the heart and the head. David C. Lachman, in his introduction to the 1996 Old Paths Publication (reprinted again in 2001), says:

Any pastor who has a measure of godly wisdom and has the spiritual good of his congregation at heart will profit much from a careful study of this work. Avail yourself of the treasure!

Thomas Murphy’s Pastoral Theology can be read online here.

The Pastor in the Sick-Room by John D. Wells

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

John Dunlap Wells (1815-1903) was licensed to preach the gospel in 1842, and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1844, learning, as he reports, "at the feet of Dr. Archibald Alexander, Dr. Samuel Miller, Dr. Charles Hodge and Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander, all of blessed memory." In his 61-year ministry as a pastor, he attended "hundreds" of sick beds and death beds, and acquired a store of wisdom that is shared both his The Last Week in the Life of Davis Johnson, Jr. (1861), and, most especially, in the three lectures he delivered at Princeton in 1892 and which were published a year later under the title The Pastor in the Sick-Room

In this latter volume, which is permeated with compassion for the suffering and the lost, Wells distinguishes between the sick bed and the death bed, while also emphasizing the connection between body and mind, and the need to deal lovingly and wisely with the whole person in all their circumstances. In the context of his discussion of death-bed conversions, he also recounts famous last words by various Christians (in a fashion similar to Alfred Nevin's How They Died; or, The Last Words of American Presbyterian Ministers). 

For those who minister to the sick and suffering and dying, this book will serve as an encouragement to do so in love and with compassion for the bodies, minds and souls of those in the greatest need. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me: (Matt. 25:34-36).

Note: This was originally posted on March 6, 2018 (slight edits have been made in today’s post).

Ministers are the Watchmen of Israel: Edward D. Griffin

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked mans hall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (Ezekiel 33:7-8)

The sermons of Edward Dorr Griffin are a real treasure, as Griffin’s friend and biographer, William B. Sprague, as well as Samuel Miller, and others have noted. There are many to highlight but today we focus on one wherein Griffin reminds us of the duty of a pastor in dangerous times. As John Calvin said, “The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep, and another for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both, for he who is deeply skilled in it will be able both to govern those who are teachable, and to refute the enemies of the truth.” (Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 296). In line with this thought, consider Griffin’s words to those whose duty it is sometimes to warn as well as to encourage.

It is impossible for a minister to deliver the whole message of God without giving offence to some. And the reason is, that the character and destiny of sinners are such as they cannot bear to hear described. The truth is, that heaven and earth are at variance. The world is not as it was made, nor as it ought to be. It has revolted from God; and God esteems the character of unregenerate men as bad, and is as angry with them, as any watch man ever represented. Else why is every page of his word filled with solemn accusations and complaints, which call forth resentments against this book more than against any other book on earth? Why is it that every eye, as soon as it is opened, sees this controversy to be as real as the existence of God? Why was this beautiful paradise changed to a vale of tears, to be chastened with griefs and shaken with tempests? Why did a view of divine wrath against the world press out the bloody sweat of Gethsemane? Did not the agonies of Calvary show that God was angry with men? If all these proofs fail to strike, one is at hand which, one would think, could not be resisted. Why is it that when sinners die, God puts them into an eternal hell? Does this evince no anger, or anger less dreadful than the watchmen represent It evinces anger greater than human tongue ever described or human heart conceived. Settle it then that heaven and earth are at variance, and that God has a controversy with men.

Griffin continues:

In equally solemn tones I declare, as my office bids me, and call every angel to witness, that in this war God is right and the world is wrong. This great truth while I live I will declare, and hope to pronounce it with my dying breath. God is right and the world is wrong. I wish it were set forth in broad letters upon every forehead, and with a pen dipped in heaven were written upon every heart. I wish it were posted in sun beams at the corner of every street, and were graven with the point of a diamond on the rock forever. God is right and the world is wrong. Let this great truth pass from land to land to prostrate nations of unknown tongues, and rolling through every clime, bring an humbled world to their Redeemer's feet.

His conclusion is very sober:

Standing on my watch tower, I am commanded, if I see aught of evil coming, to give warning. I again solemnly declare that I do see evil approaching. I see a storm collecting in the heavens; I discover the commotion of the troubled elements; I hear the roar of distant winds. Heaven and earth seem mingled in conflict; and I cry to those for whom I watch, A storm! a storm! get into the ark or you are swept away. — Ah what is it I see? I see a world convulsed and falling to ruins; the sea burning like oil; nations rising from under ground; the sun falling; the damned in chains before the bar, and some of my poor hearers with them. I see them cast from the battlement of the judgment seat. My God, the eternal pit has closed upon them forever!

Read Griffin’s sermon titled “The Watchman” (in Vol. 2 of the 1839 edition of his Sermons) - directed to both pastors and their flocks - as well as many other powerful sermons at his page here. And get to know an early 19th century Presbyterian pastor whose words still ring true today.

Archibald Alexander's Advice to a Young Pastor on How to Arrange His Schedule

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

We have recently posted the first four volumes of Home, the School, and the Church, edited by Cortlandt Van Renssalaer in the 1850s. This journal/magazine was a collection of articles on Christian education in the three arenas mentioned in its title. Van Renssalaer was the Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church from 1846-1860, so he had a special interest in seeing the church think deeply about its responsibility to educate its members.

In the third volume of Home, the School, and the Church, a letter by Dr. Archibald Alexander to a young pastor is included. His counsel about how to spend mornings and evenings in study, and afternoons (presumably) in ministry to people, is instructive both from an historical and a practical standpoint.

[The late Dr. Alexander, who was exceeded by none in sound practical wisdom, gave the following counsels to a pupil who had left the Seminary and gone into the active duties of the ministry.]

Princeton, June 21, 1838.

While you remain at home, I would advise you to spend much of your time in making yourself familiar with the English Bible, and also read a portion of the Greek Testament. Compose one good sermon every week; and set down such texts in your common-place book, as strike you at any particular time, with such a division and leading thoughts as occur; and when you insert a text, leave room for a few leading thoughts or illustrations, to be added from time to time. Spend an hour or two each day in carefully reading the writings of some able theologian. The particulars mentioned will be sufficient for your morning occupation.

In the evening, when at home, read history, ancient and modern. Cultivate an acquaintance with the best English classics. Read them with some regard to your own style. And if you have a strong predilection for any branch of science, literature, or theology, indulge it, at least to a certain extent, and endeavour to make yourself eminent in that department. Make some experiment in writing paragraphs for the periodical press, or in composing a tract. By writing a good evangelical tract, you may be the means of more good than by preaching all your life; for that would live when you were dead.

Do not be idle in the exercise of the ministry which you have received. Your commission reads: "Be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine." Carry the Gospel to the ignorant in the suburbs and vicinity of B___________. Seek a blessing and expect a blessing on your labours. Make use of this resting-time to cultivate piety in your own heart; endeavour to keep up communion with your God and Saviour. Be much in meditation, self-examination, learn more and more the wisdom of self denial. Beware of being guided and governed principally by a regard to your own ease or emolument. For Christ's sake be willing to encounter difficulties and to endure privations. Think much of the worth of the soul, and exert all your energies to rescue sinners from ruin. Be not afraid to go to any place where Providence opens the way. Be sure to mark the leadings of Providence towards you, and to follow the path indicated. If you, through inattention and selfish affections, take a course different from that indicated, you will get strangely entangled and bewildered in your pilgrimage, and may never enjoy comfort or be of much use in the world. Through God's blessings we are all well.

I am, affectionately, yours, &c.

May the Lord enable pastors to redeem their time with diligence.

Give attendance to reading the Scriptures: J.W. Alexander & Thomas Murphy

Wise words to pastors especially to improve their preaching, but also to all Christians, from James W. Alexander (Thoughts on Preaching) and repeated by Thomas Murphy as well (“Incessant Study of the Bible,” Pastoral Theology):

§ 43. Study of the Scripture.— Constant perusal and re-perusal of Scripture is the great preparation for preaching. You get good even when you know it not. This is one of the most observable differences between old and young theologians. "Give attendance to reading."

And a further thought on this matter:

The liveliest preachers are those who are most familiar with the Bible, without note or comment ; and we frequently find them among men who have had no education better than that of the common school. It was this which gave such animation to the vivid books and discourses of the Puritans. As there is no poetry so rich and bold as that of the Bible, so he who daily makes this his study, will even on human principles be awakened, and acquire a striking manner of conveying his thoughts. The sacred books are full of fact, example, and illustration, which with copiousness and variety will cluster around the truths which the man of God derives from the same source. One preacher gives us naked heads of theology; they are true, Scriptural, and important, but they are uninteresting, especially when reiterated for the thousandth time in the same naked manner. Another gives us the same truths, but each of them brings in its train a retinue of Scriptural example, history, a figure by way of illustration; and a variety hence arises which is perpetually becoming richer as the preacher goes more deeply into the mine of Scripture. There are some great preachers who, like Whitefield, do not appear to bestow great labour on the preparation of particular discourses; but it may be observed, that these are always persons whose life is a study of the Word. Each sermon is an outflowing from a fountain which is constantly full. The Bible is, after all, the one book of the preacher. He who is most familiar with it, will become most like it; and this in respect to every one of its wonderful qualities; and will bring forth from his treasury things new and old.

The Duties of a Gospel Minister, by John Holt Rice, is Now Available

Log College Press has just published its latest title, a booklet by John Holt Rice entitled The Duties of a Gospel Minister. Rice (1777-1831) was an American Presbyterian who ministered in Virginia and was instrumental in the early days of Union Theological Seminary. This booklet, with a foreword by Barry Waugh introducing Rice the man and the minister, originally was a sermon preached in 1809. It sets forth the duties of a pastor to his fellow pastors and to the church, as well as laying down motivations for diligence in the work of the ministry. All pastors, whether right out of seminary or near retirement, will be encouraged and instructed by this brief distillation of the pastoral calling.

Here are a few endorsements of Rice’s work:

“Too many works on pastoral ministry are long on worldly pragmatics and short on Biblical practicality. Yet The Duties of a Gospel Minister, though a brief work, is filled with the latter as Rice directs pastors toward a truer Presbyterian approach to the ministry. His section on pastoral ministry to youth – a key factor in awakening in church history – is especially needed in this directionless age.”

– Dr. Barry J. York, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

 “In this startlingly relevant little work, Rice refreshes the minister’s soul as he sets the spiritual beauty of this peculiar calling before his readers anew. Every new minister as well as every tired, world-worn, or discouraged pastor who would be more than a ‘baptized deist’ would do well to take the few minutes required to read this address. Do it, and see how God might use it in your life: to settle your heart; to remind you of the grand proportions, profound significance, and urgent need of your work; and to renew your desire to serve Christ vigorously, ‘with all diligence and fidelity,’ as a minister of ‘unadulterated Christianity’ in His Church and to a desperate and dying world.”

– Dr. Bruce P. Baugus, Associate Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson

 “A wise man listens to counsel – especially counsel drawn from the Word. While John Holt Rice’s exposition of aspects of ‘The Duties of a Gospel Minister’ was written to a past generation, his application of Scripture is as relevant as ever, challenging us to re-engage the high calling of gospel ministry in Christ for the joy set before us.”

– Dr. William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

You can purchase Rice’s book for $3.99, or all six of our titles for $26 (plus free shipping). Visit our online bookstore today.

Thomas Murphy's Recommended Pastoral Library

The following is a list of recommended books that should be had and consulted by the Christian minister in his library, prepared by Thomas Murphy, an Irish-American Presbyterian, who was born in Country Antrim in 1823 and died in New Jersey in 1900. Many of the authors he cites in his most valuable Pastoral Theology, pp. 144-147, not surprisingly, are to be found here at Log College Press. This guide can be useful to all Christians, but especially if you are a pastor or seeking to become one, take note of the authors and titles and links below.

In order to give some assistance in the selection of books, we would name a few upon the respective branches of ministerial study. We pass by general reading and culture, for it is with the minister in his special calling as pastor that we are now concerned. We give only a few authors as many as may serve at the beginning of the ministry a sort of indispensable apparatus for commencing the great work. At least, the pastor's library should be stocked with most of these as soon as circumstances will allow. The books we name have been well tried, and are recommended by persons whose judgment is worthy of confidence.

1. Books of general reference….

2. Interpretation of Scripture….

3. Commentaries. On the whole Bible, [Matthew] Henry's Commentary; Critical and Experimental Commentary by Jamieson, Faussett and Brown; [Johann Peter] Lange's great Bible work is a thesaurus of scriptural exposition which may be secured as the wants of the pastor require. Many of the best expositors have written on only one or a few books of Scripture. A detailed list of some of the most useful of these may now be given: On Genesis, [James Gracey] Murphy, [Melancthon Williams] Jacobus, [George] Bush; on Exodus, Murphy, Jacobus, Bush; on Leviticus, Bush, [Andrew] Bonar; on Numbers, Bush, Keil and Delitzsch; on Deuteronomy, Keil and Delitzsch; on the whole Pentateuch, [John] Calvin; on Joshua and Judges, Bush, Keil and Delitzsch; on Ruth and Samuel, Keil and Delitzsch; on Esther, [Thomas] McCrie [the Elder]; on Job, [Albert] Barnes; on Psalms, Barnes, Calvin; on Proverbs, [Charles] Bridges, [Moses] Stuart; on Ecclesiastes, Bridges; on Song of Solomon, Newton; on Isaiah, Barnes, [Joseph Addison] Alexander; on Jeremiah and Lamentations, [Ebenezer] Henderson; on Ezekiel, [Patrick] Fairbairn; on Daniel, Barnes, [Karl August] Auberl[e]n, Stuart; on the minor prophets,  Henderson; on Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi[T.V.] Moore; on the four Evangelists, John J. Owen; on Matthew and Mark, [Joseph Addison] Alexander; on John, [George] Hutch[e]son; on Acts[Joseph Addison] Alexander, [Horatio Balch] Hackett, Jacobus; on Romans, [Charles] Hodge, [Samuel Hulbeart] Turner; on Corinthians[Charles] Hodge; on Galatians, [Martin] Luther; on Ephesians[Charles] Hodge; on Philippians and Colossians, [John] Eadie; on Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Barnes; on Hebrews, Stuart, [John] Owen; on James, Barnes, [Robert Everett?] Pattison; on Peter, Barnes and [Robert] Leighton; on John and Jude, Barnes; on Revelation, Stuart, Barnes and Auberl[e]n.

4. TheologySystematic Theology, by [Charles] Hodge; [George] Hill's Divinity; [Timothy] Dwight's Theology; [John] Dick's Theology; Outlines of Theology, by A. A. Hodge; [Benedict] Pictet's Theology.

5. Church History. [Johann Lorenz] Mosehim's Ecclesiastical History; [W.G.T.] Shedd's History of Doctrines; [Johann Heinrich] Kurtz's Sacred History; [Philip] Schaff's Apostolic Church; [Thomas] McCrie's [the Elder] Life of Knox; History of the Church in Chronological Tables, [Henry Boynton] Smith; The Ancient Church, by Dr. [William Dool] Killen; [Jean-Henri Merle] D'Aubigne's Histories.

6. Church Government and the Sacraments[Samuel] Miller on the Christian Ministry; [Samuel} Miller on the Ruling ElderPrimitive Church Officers, J.A. Alexander; [Richard] Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity; [Lyman] Coleman's Primitive Church

7. Sermons. This field is a boundless one, and we give only a few books which are known to be of standard value: [Robert] South's Sermons; Robert Hall's Sermons; Sermons of John M. Mason — these should be read by all means; [Samuel Davies’] Sermons; Archibald Alexander's Practical Sermons; Gospel in Ezekiel, [Thomas] Guthrie; Principal [William] Cunningham's Sermons, amongst the best in the language; [Charles] Spurgeon's Sermons; Bishop [Samuel] Horsley's Sermons, among the best.

8. Practical Piety. [Lady Rachel] Russell's Letters; [Samuel] Rutherford's Letters; [Thomas] A Kempis; [John Angell] James's Earnest Ministry; [Octavius] Winslow's Precious Things of God; [Richard] Baxter's Reformed Pastor; Daily Meditations by [George] Bowen; Owen on the Glory of Christ — a work of pre-eminent value; Owen on Spiritual-Mindedness — Dr. [Archibald] Alexander said this should be read once a year; [John] Howe's Delight in God; [John] Flavel's Keeping the Heart.

9. Christian Biography. Lives of [Robert Murray] McCheyne, [Charles] Simeon, Henry Martyn, [Thomas] Hal[y]burton, Archibald Alexander.

10. Great Puritan Writers. John Howe -- all of his works. Says James W. Alexander, "A little reading in the pages of great thought will sometimes set one thinking, as if by a happy contagion. Such pages are those of John Howe." Owen, especially on Hebrews Dr. Mason used to say all his theology was from this. Some of his most valuable productions are on "Spiritual-Mindedness," on the "Glory of Christ," on "Forgiveness of Sin," "Indwelling Sin," and "Mortification of Sin;" Baxter, especially his "Saints Rest" and "Reformed Pastor," Leighton's works; Flavel's works highly recommended; and [Stephen] Charnock on the "Divine Attributes." 

11. On Sabbath-school Work. "Sunday-School Idea" ([John Seely] Hart); "Sabbath -School Index" ([Richard Gay] Pardee); "Preparing to Teach" (Presbyterian Board).

The minister who has secured most of these books is furnished with the best of reading for many a day, and with authorities on almost all subjects that can come before him in his profession. Of other authors he will find out the value in the progress of his ministry, and purchase them as new wants arise. It was an excellent advice of Dr. Archibald Alexander that ministers should buy books only as they are actually needed, and not to be stored away on the shelves of the library for future use. Our last advice is to be sure of getting only the standard and very best authors.

J.W. Alexander: Remember to pray for your pastor

James Waddel Alexander reminds us what a privilege it is to lift our pastors before the heavenly throne to receive grace and blessing from above upon the ministry of Christ’s word:

The primary advantage of family-prayer to the church, is that it is answered. It is no small thing for any congregation to have daily cries for God's blessings on it ascending from a hundred firesides. What a spring of refreshment to a pastor! The family-devotions of praying Kidderminster, no doubt, made [Richard] Baxter a better minister, and a happier man; and it is possible that we are reaping the fruits of them, in his "Saints' Rest," and "Dying Thoughts." We have all heard of the preacher who told his flock that he had "lost his prayer-book," meaning their prayers; as also that good quaint saying of the last age, "A praying people makes a preaching minister." Such aid has been well compared to that of Aaron and Hur. Faithful and affectionate Christians never fail to remember their spiritual guide in their household supplications. (Thoughts on Family Worship, pp. 148-149)

The Pastorate is a Formidable Calling (Joseph Buck Stratton)

The following description of the work of the ministry by Joseph Buck Stratton, Sr. (found in his book Memorial of a Quarter-Century’s Pastorate), is known intimately by every faithful pastor, and should be read by every man preparing to become a pastor. For the ministry is no place for a man who desires to be lazy, as we see even in the example of the apostle Paul: “I worked harder than any of them” (I Corinthians 15:10). The rest of that verse reminds us, however, that the minister must be absolutely dependent upon God’s strength, and so ministry done in one’s own strength, or for one’s own glory, is in vain: “…though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Stratton’s words depict plainly the nature of the minister’s labors, and make us cry out, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (II Corinthians 2:16). May the Lord give us strength day by day to do His will for the good of His people.

The claims of the pulpit must ever present themselves to the young minister as most formidable in their dimensions. And they ought to do so. For an ambassador of Christ to treat his message with levity is sadly out of harmony with his demand that his hearers should hear it as though "God did beseech" them by him. These claims necessarily involve an application of mind, in the way of research and reflection, of the severest kind. And then they are incessant and inexorable in their exactions. As soon as one effort is concluded, another must be prepared for. "The inevitable hour" when the congregation must have its lecture or discourse, and must have it whether the preacher be in frame or out of frame, is always impending over him. Entertaining the views which I held of obligation on this subject, and haunted always, perhaps criminally, certainly painfully, with a feeling of self-distrust, the work of preparing for the pulpit, with me, has been an arduous one. I have been accustomed, as you are aware, in my Sabbath preaching, to make a large use of the pen. Sometimes in my earlier ministry I felt constrained to depend upon this altogether. The draft upon a clergyman's time, created by this practice, I am coming more and more to think, should be avoided by such training as may qualify him to preach without the labor of literal composition. Pursuing the plan which I have adopted, and which it is not easy now to depart from, I have written out completely at least six hundred discourses of different kinds during the twenty-five years of my pastorate in this place.

A minister, again, at a central point like this, will find his duties as a presbyter extending beyond the circle of his own charge. And as one result of this he will have a large amount of correspondence thrown upon his hands. I have found that one day in each week, and often two, were required for this species of work.

Then the maintaining of an intercourse with the individuals and families of his flock, is a part of his duty which allows a pastor no rest. Although he may know that his rule here, as in all things, is " to study to show himself approved unto God," he knows, too, that his people expect him to show himself approved unto them. He may know, as is the case in a charge as extensive as this, that it is impossible to satisfy the wishes of his people without sacrificing every other department of his work; but the reflection that he is not satisfying them will be in his mind like a goad, driving him forward, and yet always tormenting him with the consciousness of falling behind the required measure of performance.

Then the casual services which are demanded of him in connection with the wants, the troubles, and the afflictions of the community in which he ministers — services which are indefinitely various, which may spring upon him at the most inopportune moment, and which are sometimes inconsiderately imposed — constitute a tax upon time, upon thought, and often upon feeling, of the most exhaustive nature.

Then the teacher who is constantly teaching, must seek to be constantly taught. He must keep himself informed, that he may inform others. He needs the opportunity and the freedom of mind required for study; not merely such as shall furnish him for an exercise, but such as shall make him generally intelligent.

And then, lastly, he has the same infirmities, the same inaptitudes and indispositions, clogging his movements, which other men feel, and under which they usually indulge themselves with a cessation from labor; and he has the same kind and the same measure of household responsibilities claiming his attention and burdening his mind, which other men, encompassed with domestic ties, have.

Daniel Baker’s Prayer on the Eve of His Being Licensed to Preach the Gospel

Daniel Baker wrote this prayer in his journal on October 12, 1816, during the week preceding his licensure. He was twenty-five years old and had been studying for the ministry under William Hill of Winchester, Virginia, after graduating from Princeton College. These words ought to express the heart of every gospel minister:

“In the prospect of my being licensed in the coming week, I have set apart this day, by fasting and prayer, to draw near unto the Lord  I am now about to go forth to preach the everlasting gospel to poor, perishing sinners; to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to those that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. O, may I go forth in the strength of the mighty One of Jacob, and lift my banner in the name of the Captain of my salvation! I know that my duties will be arduous, and I am sensible that I am not sufficient for these things; but I know in whom I trust; it is not in myself, it is not in any atm of flesh - it is in the living God, the merciful and covenant-keeping God, who has been pleased to say, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength shall be made perfect in weakness.’ To thee, O my God, do I commit myself, and again would I solemnly renew the dedication of myself and my all to thy service.  O condescend to accept the unworthy offering, and lay me out for thy glory. I ask not to be rich in silver and gold, and to be admired and caressed; I ask to be rich in faith and good works, and to be blessed and owned in my labors of love. I ask not to be exempted from grievous trials and persecutions, but I ask grace to glorify thee in the hour of trial; grace to be useful, grace to be triumphant in death, and grace to reach, at length, the Mount Zion above, where I may forever sing the triumphs of my dearest Lord. To thee, O my God, do I now commit my way; be pleased to direct my paths, for the Redeemer’s sake. Amen.” 

Life and Labors of Daniel Baker, by William M. Baker, Pages 91-92

 

Why should Christians care what the Bible says about the character and conduct of pastors? John Witherspoon answers.

"To understand what ought to be the character, and what principles should animate the conduct of a minister of the Gospel, cannot be without profit, even to a private Christian. It will teach him whom to prefer, when he is called, in providence, to make a choice. It will teach him to hold such in reputation for their office sake, and to improve the privilege of a regular gospel ministry, if he himself is favored with it. And I think it must incline him to make daily supplication to the Lord of the harvest, to send forth faithful laborers into his harvest." -- John Witherspoon, "Ministerial Character and Duty," in Works (Volume 2)