The Baptist Pillar © Brandon Bible Baptist Church 1992-Present www.baptistpillar.com
"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Jeremiah Chaplin, Editor
From Riches of Bunyan, 1850
Importance of the Ministry
The church itself, without its watchmen, is a weak, feeble, and very helpless thing. What can the lady or mistress do to defend herself against thieves and sturdy villains, if there be none but she at home? It is said, when the shepherd is smitten, the sheep will be scattered. What could the temple do without its watchmen? I Chr. 9:24.
Then let the churches love their pastors, hear their pastors, be ruled by their pastors, and suffer themselves to be watched over, and to be exhorted, counselled, and if need be, reproved and rebuked by their pastors. And let the ministers not sleep, but be watchful, and look to the ordinances, to the soul of the saints, and the gates of the church. Watch, man; watch, man; watch!
Duty of Churches to the Ministry
Is the soul such an excellent thing, and is the loss thereof so unspeakably great? Then this should teach the people to be careful to whom they commit the teaching and guidance of their souls.
This is a business of the greatest concern: men will be careful to whom they commit their children, whom they make the executors of their wills, in whose hand they trust the writing and evidences of their lands; but how much more careful should we be, unto whom we commit the teaching and guidance of our souls. And yet most men are in these matters least of all careful.
There are idle shepherds. Zech. 11:7. There are foolish shepherds. Zech. 11:15. There are shepherds that feed themselves, and not their flocks. Ezek. 34:2. There are hard-hearted and pitiless shepherds. Zech 11:3. There are shepherds that instead of healing, smite, push, and wound the diseased. Ezek. 34:4, 21. There are shepherds that cause the flock to go astray. Jer. 50:6. And there are shepherds that feed their flock: these are the shepherds to whom thou shouldst commit thy soul for teaching and guidance.
Then said the Interpreter, "Come in; I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee." So he commanded his man to light a candle, and bade Christian follow him. So he lead him into a private room, and bid his man open a door: the which when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hang up against the wall; and this was the fashion of it: it had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in its hand, the law of truth was written upon its lips, the world was behind its back; it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.
Then said Christian, "What meaneth this?"
Interpreter. "The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand; he can begat children, I Cor. 4:15, travail in birth with children, Gal. 4:19, and nurse them himself when they are born. And whereas thou seest him with his eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of the books in his hand, and the law of truth written on his lips; it is to show thee that his work is to know and to unfold dark things to sinners; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men. And whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee that, slighting and despising the things that are present for the love that he hath to his Master’s service, he is sure, in the world that comes next, to have glory for his reward.
"Now," said the Interpreter, "I have showed these this picture first, because the man whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place whither thou art going hath authorized to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way; wherefore, take good heed to what thou hast seen, lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death."
Duty of Ministers
Would Jesus Christ have mercy offered in the first place to the biggest sinners? Then let God’s ministers tell them so.
There is a tendency in us, I know not how it doth come about, when we are converted to condemn them that are left behind. Poor fools as we are, we forget that we ourselves were so.
But would it not become us better, since we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, so to act toward them that we may give them convincing ground to believe that we have found that mercy which also sets open the door for them to come and partake with us?
Austerity doth not become us, neither in doctrine nor in conversation. We ourselves live by grace; let us give as we receive, and labour to persuade our fellow-sinners whom God has left behind us, to follow after, that they may partake with us of grace. We are saved by grace, let us live like them that are gracious. Let all our things to the world be done in charity towards them; pity them, pray for them, be familiar with them for their good. Let us lay aside our foolish, worldly, carnal grandeur; let us not walk streets, and have such behaviours as signify we are scarce for touching the poor ones that are left behind, no, not with a pair of tongs.
Remember the Lord; he was familiar with publicans and sinners to a proverb. "behold a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber; a friend of publicans and sinners." Matt. 11:19. The first part, concerning his gluttonous eating and drinking, to be sure, was a horrible slander; but for the other, nothing was ever spoken truer of him by the world.
Now why should we lay hands cross on this text; that is, choose good victuals and love the sweet wine better that the salvation of the poor publican? Why not be familiar with sinners, provided we hate their spots and blemishes, and seek that they may be healed of them? Why not be fellowly with our carnal neighbors, if we take occasion to do so that we may drop and be distilling some man’s house, and give him a penny and a scripture to think upon?
Ministers, Servants of the Church
Gifts and office make no men sons of God; as so, they are but servants; though these, as ministers and apostles, were servants of the highest form. It is the church, as such, that is the lady, a queen, the bride, the Lamb’s wife; and prophets, apostles, and ministers are but servants, stewards, labourers for her good.
As therefore the lady is above the servant, the queen above the steward, or the wife above all her husband’s officers, so is the church, as such, above these officers.
A man may be used as a servant in the church of God, and may receive many gifts and much knowledge of the things of heaven, and yet at last, himself be no more than a very bubble and nothing.
This our day doth indeed abound with gifts; many sparking wits are seen in every corner; men have the word and truths of Christ at their finger’s ends. But alas, with many, yea a great many, there is naught but wits and gifts: they are but words; all their religion lieth in their tongues and heads; the power of what they say and know is seen in others, not in themselves. These are like the lord on whom the king of Israel leaned; they shall see the plenty, the blessed plenty that God doth provide and will bestow upon his church, but they shall not taste thereof.