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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Rev. Joseph Weston,
The Watchman Examiner, 1916
One: I must be impartial
It will never do for me to be hand and glove with this clique or clan or coterie. I belong to the church, and not to a few people in it. I am the pastor of Mrs. Careworn as well as Mrs. Cardcase. I belong to the little child on the back street whose father is a drunkard and whose mother is a washerwoman as well as to little Georgic Giltedge who lives on the avenue and whose father is the president of my board of trustees.
My heart must be big enough and my sympathies must be wide enough to take in everybody in my church and parish without regard to social standing, age, color or previous condition of servitude. I am as good as the best, but I am no better than the poorest, and, God helping me, I will be kind and sympathetic to all the people all along the way. I'll be a friend to the blasted as well as to the blessed, to the man who is "down and out" as well as to the man who is clad in purple and fine linen and who fares sumptuously every day.
Two: I must be interesting
It will never do for me to let people yawn and sleep in my church if I can help it. I will be interesting, and that will make the people interested. I will be as bright and cheery as a sunbeam, as straight as an Alpine arrow and as keen as a Damascus blade. I will bring out of God's Treasury things new and old.
I will keep my body in the best physical condition and my mind so well stored with the fairy tales of science and the rich results of time that my manner and my message will grip people like the Ancient Mariner, the wedding guest whom Samuel Taylor Coleridge tells us about in such interesting numbers.
I have a gracious message and a gladsome salvation, but that will not help people if they do not come to church or do not listen to me when they do come. "The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark when neither is attended."
Three: I must be instructive
For me to appear before my congregation with nothing more than pious platitudes would be a disgrace and shame, and if I do it I ought to be ashamed even if my people do not remark about it. I will pack my sermons full of interesting, helpful and instructive material from all the fields of literature, science and art that I may be master of or familiar with, but especially will I fill my sermons with the Word of God, for that is able to make men wise unto salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus. Any man who has a volume as rich and racy, as varied and vigorous and victorious as the Bible must be a poor kind of fellow who cannot say things that will make people sit up and take notice.
Earnest seekers of the best,
Returning weary from the quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book their mothers' read.
Four: I must be inspiring
It is not enough to be impartial and interesting and instructive. I must be inspiring. I must not only point to heaven, but lead the way, and for Jesus' sake I must not be weary or discouraged until he shall set judgment in the earth and the isles shall wait for his law. I must get people to go along to Canaan. I must so preach and love and labor that many from all classes will be glad to travel my way.
I must do all these things and more, for "I am a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given unto me for you to fulfill the Word of God; even the mystery which hath been hidden for ages, but is now made manifest to his saints, which is Christ in you the hope of glory whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect in Christ."
O Lord, help me to remember and practise all these "I's," and then my ministry will be 'a blessing, and I shall say, "Not I, but Christ." "Not I, but Christ that dwelleth in me."