The Review and Herald

131/1902

August 8, 1878

An Appeal to the Ministers

EGW

“And Enoch walked with God.” This is the path of safety to all who profess to follow Christ, but in a special manner to those who profess to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion. I am deeply convinced that there must be greater piety among those who teach the truth of God. Those who labor for the truth in word and doctrine should closely examine themselves for the purpose of purifying and improving their character. Many study books to perfect themselves in knowledge, while they neglect to become acquainted with themselves. Christ said, in the prayer just prior to his betrayal, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” If the minister would present those for whom he labors, perfect in Christ, he must himself be perfect. This work of becoming perfect through the merits of Christ requires much meditation and earnest prayer. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 1

I have felt grieved at hearing some ministers talk of Christ's life and teachings in as common-place a manner as though recounting the incidents in the life of some great man of the world. When I hear this sacred subject treated in such a manner, I feel a grief that I cannot express; for I know that although these men are teachers of the truth, they have never become acquainted with Christ and learned of him. Had they exalted views of Jesus Christ, they would not express themselves in the common-place manner in which they do. They have not that elevation of thought which would give them a clear conception of the divine character of the world's Redeemer. They have little faith, little godliness, and bring down the standard of holiness to a level with their own narrow comprehension. This tends to lower the appreciation of the exalted character of Christ in the minds of the people. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 2

It is not unusual for ministers, in their discourses, to treat of Christ as though he were a man like themselves. As a rule such ones place a high estimate upon themselves and that which they accomplish. While professedly servants of Jesus Christ, they are not partakers of his divine nature; they are wrapped up in self, and do not discern sacred things. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 3

The ministers of Christ, who bear the message of truth to men, will never become self-sufficient or self-exalted if they have correct views of the character and work of Christ, the author of man's salvation. The unworthiness, weakness, and inefficiency of their own efforts in contrast with those of the eternal Son of God, will render them humble, distrustful of self, and will lead them to rely upon Christ for strength and efficiency in their work. Habitually dwelling upon Christ, his exalted character, and the all-sufficient merits of his sacrifice, increases the faith, sharpens the imaginative power, strengthens the longing desire to be like him, and creates holy earnestness in prayer, that makes it efficacious. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 4

I see that great reformation must take place in the ministry before it shall be what God would have it. Ministers in the desk have no license to behave like theatrical performers, assuming attitudes and expressions calculated for effect. They do not occupy the sacred desk as actors, but as teachers of solemn truths. There are also fanatical ministers, who, in attempting to preach Christ, storm, halloo, jump up and down, and pound the desk before them, as if this bodily exercise profited anything. Such antics lend no force to the truths uttered, but, on the contrary, disgust men and women of calm judgment and elevated views. It is the duty of men who give themselves to the ministry to leave all coarseness and boisterous conduct outside the desk at least. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 5

Awkward and uncouth gestures are not to be tolerated in the common walks of life, how much less, then, are they to be endured in the most sacred work of the gospel ministry. The minister should cultivate grace, courtesy, and refinement of manner. He should carry himself with a quiet dignity becoming his elevated calling. Solemnity, a certain godly authority, mingled with meekness, should characterize the demeanor of him who is a teacher of God's truth. Ministers should not make a practice of relating anecdotes in the desk; it detracts from the force and solemnity of the truth presented. The relation of anecdotes or incidents which create a laugh or a light thought in the minds of the hearers is severely censurable. The truth should be clothed in chaste and dignified language; and the illustrations should be of a like character. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 6

The minister who has learned of Christ will ever be conscious that he is a messenger of God, commissioned by him to do a work both for time and eternity. It should not be any part of his object to call attention to himself, his learning, or his ability. But his whole aim should be to bring sinners to repentance, pointing them, both by precept and example, to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Self should be hidden in Jesus. Such men will speak as those conscious of possessing power and authority from God, being a mouth-piece for him. Their discourses will have an earnestness and fervor of persuasion that will lead sinners to see their lost condition, and take refuge in Christ. Such ministers will partake of the sympathy and love flowing from Jesus, the great fountainhead, and souls will be touched by their words, prejudice will melt away, and sinners will be converted. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 7

Were the gospel ministry what it should and might be, the teachers of Christ's truth would be working in harmony with the angels; they would be co-laborers with their great Teacher. There is too little prayer among the ministers of Christ, and too much self-exaltation. There is too little weeping between the porch and the altar, and crying, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” There are too many long doctrinal sermons preached, without one spark of spiritual fervor and the love of God. There is too much gesticulation and relation of humorous anecdotes in the pulpit, and too little said of the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to preach to men; we must pray with them and for them; we must not hold ourselves coldly aloof from them, but come in sympathy close to the souls we wish to save, visit and converse with them. The minister who conducts the work outside the pulpit in a proper manner will accomplish tenfold more than he who confines his labor to the desk. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 8

Christ is constantly interceding in Heaven for poor sinners upon earth; if ministers would be co-laborers with him they must do the work on earth which corresponds with that which their Master is doing in Heaven. Jesus has opened the gates of Heaven for us, and we may make intercessions at the throne of grace, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting, and bear the cases of those for whom we are laboring before God. We may see the heavens opened, and the glorified Son of God, the High Priest of our salvation, pleading for sinners. Doctrinal discourses should be well savored with the Saviour's dying love to men. This will make the truth spoken tenfold more efficient. Let your own heart be filled with the Spirit of God and the love of Christ, and then let your hearers feel that you deeply appreciate their danger, and that you would sacrifice even life itself, if it were necessary, in order to turn their feet from the path of perdition into the path of life and peace. Those who forget self, and rely on God alone for success in the task of saving sinners, will have divine approval, and the fruit of their labors will tell gloriously in the harvest of souls. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 9

Ministers should be instant in prayer; they should walk with God in spirit, as Enoch did of old. The divine light shining upon their countenance, and shown in their words, will illuminate the truths uttered by them, and the treasures of infinite mercy, and the Redeemer's boundless love, will be the theme of their hearts. The fervor and earnestness which characterized the work of Christ should also distinguish the efforts of his ministers. Their hearts should be subdued and filled with the Saviour's love, if they would break down the prejudice and melt the coldness of those who listen to their words. Converts seldom rise at once in spirituality above the level of their teachers. How important, then, that those teachers should habitually put their trust in God, and seek for the manifestations of his divine power upon their labors; that they should be meek, spiritual-minded, and in constant communion with Heaven. Then those who are converted under their labors will partake of their spirit, and emulate their graces. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 10

Divine power alone will reach and melt the sinner's heart, and bring him, a penitent, to Christ. Neither Luther, Melancthon, Wesley, Whitefield, nor any other great reformer and teacher, could of himself have gained such access to hearts as to accomplish the grand results these men did. But God spoke through them. Men felt the influence of a superior power, and involuntarily yielded to it. The ministers of the truth should ever represent the life and teachings of Christ; then will they have power over the hearts of men. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 11

I feel constrained to say that ministers are greatly deficient in their labors, and in their spiritual attainments. God is ready to bestow his grace upon them, yet they pass on from day to day, possessing a cold and nominal faith, presenting the theory of the truth, but without that vital force which comes from connection with Heaven, and which would send the word preached home to the hearts of men. May God awaken ministers from their lukewarm state! Oh, that their lips might be touched by a live coal from the altar, that they might with heartfelt expostulations, warnings and tears, seek to arouse perishing souls to a sense of their danger. It is fearful to contemplate the carnal security which is taking possession of souls. While the ministers of the truth are half asleep over their work, souls are perishing around them in darkness and error. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 12

Ministers of Christ, with your own souls aglow with love to God, and love for your fellow-creatures, seek to arouse men from the stupor of death. Let your heart and mind be imbued with the spirit of your work. Let your entreaties and earnest warnings pierce the ears of the sinner. Let your fervent prayers and expostulations melt his ice-bound heart, and cause him to go in penitence to the Saviour. There are sacred obligations resting upon you as embassadors of Christ, preaching the message of salvation to an erring world. Few in the ministry have a proper appreciation of their weighty responsibilities. They go on indifferently with their sacred work, and it is like the blind leading the blind. Ministers of Christ, will you awake to your obligations to God, and to your fellow-men? You are not your own; you belong to God; your Redeemer paid the price of agony and blood for your redemption, and he has just and sacred claims upon you, and demands your full co-operation with him in the work of salvation. He has a right to all your powers, your means, and your time, and he requires your services to the fullest extent of your capabilities. He would employ them for his honor and glory, and for the salvation of souls. You dishonor him if you are not continually growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the truth. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 13

Whatever sufferings or trials you may be called upon to bear, you should not permit a breath of murmuring to escape your lips. You should reflect that the Majesty of Heaven endured far more for your sake than it is possible for you to be required to bear. He has redeemed you by his boundless mercy, by his blood, and agonies, and death. When the Master calls you, “Go work today in my vineyard,” let no selfish desire, no worldly ambition or projects, deter you from instant, cheerful, and unqualified obedience. The life of the gospel minister should be a living representation of the life of Christ. The Christianity that is manifested in the life and character, that beams out in divine loveliness from the countenance, and from every action, is a power that will attract sinners to the Saviour, and dispel the dreary shades of doubting and distrust. The corruptions existing in the ministry have made thousands of infidels. When men see the selfishness and sin of the professed teachers of Christianity, they are apt to lose confidence in Christianity itself. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 14

God calls upon ministers who accept his truth, and bear, in his name, the most solemn message ever given to the world, to lift the standard of Bible truth, and exemplify its precepts in their daily lives. Such a course would charm into believing many who have intrenched themselves behind the breast-works of infidelity. The influence of a true Christian character is like the cheering rays of sunlight that pierce to the remotest corners of the dark places into which they are allowed to enter. The light emanating from the example of the true Christian minister should not be fitful and uncertain like the flash of a meteor, but it should have the calm and steady radiance of the heavenly stars. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 15

The minister of Christ should be encircled by an atmosphere of spiritual light, because he is connected with the world of light, and walks with Christ, who is the light of the world. Arguments may be resisted; persuasion and entreaty may be scorned; the most eloquent appeals, supported by the rigor of logic, may be disregarded. But a living character of righteousness, a daily piety in all the walks of life, an anxiety for the sinner wherever found, the spirit of truth burning in the heart, beaming from the countenance, and breathing from the lips in every word, constitute a sermon which is hard to resist or to set aside, and which makes the strongholds of Satan tremble. Ministers who walk with God are clad with the panoply of Heaven, and victory attends their efforts. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 16

Ministers who would labor effectively for the salvation of souls must be both Bible students, and men of prayer. It is a sin for those who attempt to teach the word to others to be themselves neglectful of its study. All who feel the worth of souls will flee to the stronghold of truth, where they may be furnished with wisdom, knowledge, strength, and divine power to work the works of God. They should not rest without the holy unction from on high. Too much is at stake for them to dare to be careless in regard to their spiritual advancement. Ministers of Christ, your coldness, your lack of prayer, of fervor, and of heavenly wisdom may turn the balance with a soul, and send it to perdition. Ye messengers of the truth, ye cannot afford to be indifferent in these last days! Our feet are on the borders of the eternal world, and every probationary moment is more precious than gold. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 17

Ministers of Christ whom God has made the depositaries of his law, you have an unpopular truth. You must bear this truth to the world. Warnings must be given men to prepare for the great day of God. You must reach those whose hearts are calloused by sin and love of the world. Continual and fervent prayer, and earnestness in well-doing, will bring you into communion with God; your mind and heart will imbibe a sense of eternal things, and the heavenly unction, which springs from connection with God, will be poured upon you. It will render your testimony powerful to convict and convert. Your light will not be uncertain, but your path will be luminous with heavenly brightness. God is all-powerful, and Heaven is full of light. You have only to use the means God has placed in your power to obtain the divine blessing. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 18

Be instant in prayer. You are a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. You occupy a fearfully responsible position. I entreat you to redeem the time. Come very near to God in supplication, and you will be like a tree planted by the river of waters, whose leaf is always green, and whose fruit appears in due season. Ministers of Christ, you need divine power, which God is willing to give without stint, when the draft is made upon him. Only go to God, and take him at his word, and let your works be sustained by living faith in his promises. God does not require from you eloquent prayers and logical reasoning; but only a humble, contrite heart, ready and willing to learn of him. The praying minister, who has living faith, will have corresponding works, and great results will attend his labors, despite the combined obstacles of earth and hell. RH August 8, 1878, Art. A, par. 19

“Rouse to some work of high and holy love,
And thou an angel's happiness shalt know; Shalt bless the earth; while in the world above,
The good begun by thee shall onward flow
In many a branching stream, and wider grow The seed that in these few and fleeting hours
Thy hands unsparing and unwearied sow, Shall deck thy grave with amaranthine flowers And yield the fruits divine in Heaven's immortal bowers.”