Andrew Fuller Friday: Proper Discharge of Ministry

Let me direct your attention to the duties inculcated as necessary to the discharge of the ministry. These will be found to consist in four things:—

1. Vigilance.—“Watch thou in all things.” This is a general quality that is required to run through all our work. If any of you enter the ministry as furnishing you with a genteel post in society, you will be at best a drone, and had better be any thing than a preacher. You are watchmen, and must be awake when others are asleep.

2. Patience.—“Endure afflictions.” If you cannot bear these, you had better let the ministry alone. If you be good ministers of Jesus Christ, you will not only be afflicted in common with others, but the afflictions of others will become yours. “Who is offended, and I burn not?” You must care for all, and expect on some occasions, when you have done, to receive evil for good.

3. Activity in the great work of evangelizing men:—“Do the work of an evangelist.” Without considering you as evangelists in the full import of the term, there is a portion of the work pertaining to that office which is common to us all as ministers. Wherever Providence may station you, my dear young men, be concerned to evangelize your neighbourhood. Look at the situations of a number of the ejected ministers, and see if the effects of their evangelical labours do not remain to this day. Who can look over the churches in Cambridgeshire, without seeing in them the fruits of the labours of Oddy and Holcroft? Who can review those of Bedfordshire, and not perceive in them the effects of the labours of Bunyan—labours for which he suffered twelve years’ imprisonment? The same remarks might be made respecting other parts of the kingdom. Emulate these men of God in evangelizing your respective neighbourhoods.

Fidelity in discharging your trust:—“Make full proof of thy ministry.” The word means thoroughly to accomplish that which you have undertaken. Such is the import of Col. 4:17, “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” Were you to present a soldier with a sword, and bid him make full proof of it, he could not misunderstand you. Would you see an example, look at that of the great apostle in the context: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”

But here allow me to be a little more particular. If you would make full proof of your ministry, you must attend,

(1.) To personal religion.—This is often inculcated by the apostle.—“Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock.”—“Take heed to thyself and to thy doctrine,” &c. Many people will take our personal religion for granted; as though a man who teaches others must needs be religious himself: but woe unto us if we reason in this way! Tremble at the idea of being a graceless minister—a character, it is to be feared, not very unfrequent! To what is it owing that some of our churches have been prejudiced against an educated ministry? I may be told, to their ignorance; and in part it is so; but in part it is owing to other causes. The lightness, the vanity, the foppery, and the irreligion of some young men have produced not only this effect, but an abhorrence of the very worship of God, as by them administered. Who were ever known to be prejudiced against a Pearce, a Francis, or a Beddome, on account of their education? If there were individuals of this description, let them be disregarded as ignorant, and let them be told that vicious characters are found among the uneducated as well as the educated. But be it your concern, my dear young men, to shun these evils. The instructions which you receive, if consecrated to Christ, will be a blessing to you; but if your object be to shine before men, they will be a curse.

(2.) Let the time allotted you for education be employed in acquiring a habit of useful study.—To make full proof of your ministry, you must give yourselves continually to prayer, and the ministry of the word. “Meditate on these things, and give yourselves wholly to them;” and this to the end of your lives. Let no one imagine that he will leave his present situation fully qualified for the work. If, by prayer and a diligent application to study, you acquire such a habit of close thinking as that on entering the work it shall be your delight to prosecute it, this is all that will be expected of you. It is for the want of this habit of study that there are so many saunterers, and have been so many scandals amongst ministers.

(3.) In every stage of literary improvement be concerned to have it sanctified and subordinated to God as you go on.—On this depends its utility. It were desirable that the study of languages and sciences should commence in early youth, and that religion should come after it to make the last impression, seeing it is this that ordinarily stamps the character. Could we be certain that the faith of Christ, and the gifts suited to the ministry, would follow an early education, this would be our course; but as this cannot be, our dread of an unconverted ministry makes us require religion as the first qualification. Only pursue learning that you may be better able to serve the Lord, and all will be well. It is thus that our brethren in India, though their attainments were not made in the earliest stages of life, have retained their spirituality and increased in usefulness

Fuller, A. G. (1988). “The Young Minister Exhorted to Make Full Proof of His Ministry.” Sermon LXXVI. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 519–520). Sprinkle Publications.

By |May 24th, 2024|Categories: Andrew Fuller Friday, Blog|

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