The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, is very particular as to personal religion, in a bishop, or pastor. “Take heed to thyself, and to the doctrine.”—“Keep thyself pure.”—“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Observe, too, the connection in which this exhortation stands—“Let no man despise thy youth;” plainly intimating that a holy example will render even youth respectable. Your Lord and Master both did and taught the will of God.
- Dread nothing more than recommending that to your people to which you do not attend yourself.—You may preach with the fervour of an angel; but if your practice, your habitual deportment, be inconsistent, all you do will be in vain.
- More is expected from you than from others.—A wicked preacher is of all characters the most contemptible. Even the profane despise him.
- You will attend to practical preaching.—But how can you either exhort or reprove, if your people should ever have it in their power to say, “Physician, heal thyself?”—“Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?”
- Attend not only to such duties as fall under the eye of man, but walk with God—in your family, and in your closet. It will require all your wisdom to bring up your children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;” and if you rule not well in your own house, you cannot expect to maintain a proper influence in the church of God. Beware also of omitting secret devotions. Conversing with men and things may brighten your gifts; but communion with God is necessary to improve your graces.