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Written by W.M. Mitchell   

SYNOPSIS OF A DISCOURSE PREACHED AT MT. OLIVE, NEAR OPELIKA, ALA.

BY ELDER W. M. MITCHELL, JAN. 23RD, 1881


 Notwithstanding the coldness of the day and the smallness of the congregation, I see this morning that nearly every class in society and relation of life in this vicinity is here represented. Here are a few aged men and aged women, young men and young women, and also parents and children; and, we might say, also with regard to the things of this life, there are poor and poorer persons now present. None of us have much to boast of in that respect and if we have not an incorruptible and heavenly treasure, an inheritance in Jesus, we are poor indeed, ruinously poor.

 

In looking over this little audience this morning, and thinking of the duty that lies before me as the expected speaker on this occasion, there are two things which are first suggested to my mind: One, that as the different relations in life are represented in this audience. what scriptural subject would be most suitable? The other inquiry is, whether there is any scripture applicable to all the various classes and relations in life.

 

It occurs to my mind that there is no class, condition or relation in life, but that there is some portion of the written word of God that delineates, describes and applies to that condition, whether poor or rich, wise or unwise, sick or in health. Nor are there any so wicked, polluted and sinful, as to be overlooked and left out of the catalogue of descriptions given by the Holy Ghost through God’s chosen and inspired writers. And not only is their true character described, but that portion that belongs to them, according to their character is also presented. “Woe unto the wicked; it shall be ill with him.” “Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him.” Isa. 3:11. But as it would be a life-time work to enlarge upon the subject as indicated in these prefatory remarks, I shall at present only refer you to a few things especially applied to the household of faith, as presented in the 2nd chapter of Titus. “But speak thou the things that become sound doctrine. That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men, likewise, exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness.” Without consuming time in further reading, let me insist that this whole chapter be carefully read by each of you, my friends, at your first opportunity.

 

In this letter from which I have read this morning, the inspired Apostle addresses Titus, who was a called and faithful young minister of the gospel. What is herein enjoined upon him, is equally binding upon all gospel preachers till the end of time. They are to teach and preach, and set in order the things that are wanting in the church of God . They are not only to preach sound doctrine to others, but to practice it themselves. They are to speak and teach that to others, which is becoming or in accordance with sound doctrine. And the first thing mentioned here by the Apostle is that “aged men be sober.” Sobriety of mind of manner and disposition is necessary for all classes, young or old, rich or poor; but aged men in the church are here more especially designated. Their influence long experience in life and their example to others more especially require it. It is a practical ornament of their christian profession for them to be sober. Not rash in their judgment, nor too hasty in censuring others. Sobriety is necessary as a defense against our turbulent passions. It stands opposed to rashness, pride or presumption. The aged men under the influence of this spirit of soberness look calmly upon the trials and afflictions of life, without murmuring and fretting against the providences of God. But they are not only to be sober in the use and estimate of the things of this life, and in their enquiries after truth, but they are to be grave. Christian gravity denotes a seriousness and candor in our profession, united with such a uniform good deportment as to command veneration and respect. Some men have naturally a more serious, calm and dignified manner than others. But that gravity, which we are now considering, is not that which proceeds from the natural training or temperament of men but that which results from an inward principle of grace. It is the manifestation and practical development of one of the fruits and graces of the spirit of Christ, for aged men in the church to be grave. It is becoming both their age and profession.

 

But they are also to be temperate I know that much has been preached and written in the last fifty years, on the subject of temperance. Societies have been formed and the most solemn pledges take to practice and promote temperance, yet these secret and sacred oaths and pledges have been often broken, and men are today, probably more intemperate in the use, not only of intoxicating drinks, but of almost everything else, than at any time since those societies were formed or pledges taken. Legislation too, has tried its strong hand, and rigid State laws have been passed to force men to abstain from too much whiskey and be in the use of intoxicating drinks. Bu the wise statesman is astonished at his, folly, when he beholds that the most rigid laws and stringent legislation have but increased the evil it was intended to cure.

 

But it is proper here to remark that temperance has a more enlarged meaning than simply to abstain from the immoderate use of intoxicating drinks. It signifies the proper regulation of all our appetites and passions and the proper and lawful use of all things which our merciful and bountiful Creator has given. Whatsoever God has created is to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. And “nothing to be refused” in its place. Nothing is to be perverted or abused, nor are we justifiable in abusing ourselves in the use of anything. 1 Tim. 4:3.

 

Possibly, here has been as much intemperance in the means and methods employed by these so-called Temperance societies, to promote temperance, as there has seen or now is in the evils which they vainly pretend to suppress. Intemperate speeches and lectures have been made; excited sermons have been preached, and the most enthusiastic appeals have been made to the pride, the interests and the passions of men; books, pamphlets and papers have been published, premium tracts and circulars have been written and sent out, anecdotes and fables have been told, feasts, picnics and various festivals have been resorted to, public lecturers, speakers and preachers have condescended to imitate the drunkard from the stump, the, rostrum and the pulpit, and the most intemperate use of time, of manners and of common modesty, have on some occasions been witnessed. All this too, for the cure of only one of a hundred intemperate habits. If this one evil, this one intemperate habit requires so many societies for its suppression as have been organized for that avowed object, with such little success, how many more such worldly societies would it re quire to “regulate and direct all the appetites and passions in the proper use of all things?”

 

These societies are of the world: their objects, aims and the means employed to promote and sustain them are according to the rudiments of the world: and if they can do any good in improving the morals, or restraining the excessive passions of men, let them do it. But the temperance, of which we speak, as especially enjoined upon aged men in the church, is of a higher order. It cannot be produced nor promoted by taking oaths of secrecy, nor by signing paper pledges of fidelity. It is not a fruit from nature’s corrupt soil, but a fruit of the Spirit of Christ within the soul. Gal 5:23. The principle is there written by Him who had said, “My laws will I write in their hearts and put them in their mind.” Hebrews 8:10. Gospel preaching to gospel subjects is designed to develop this principle practically. It gives evidence of the real christian character and profession.

 

The ungodly world has long been trying to imitate the true christian in some particulars. They have ardently sought to palm off something which they have called temperance, for the real and genuine article and no doubt in some instances they have sincerely believed they were successful. But in every instance their efforts will prove a failure in bringing into practical development, this true principle of gospel temperance, of which we now speak. It is impossible to develop that which does not exist. You cannot manifest that in practice that does not exist in principle, when your practice is tried, and judged by a perfect and infallible standard. You cannot get good fruit from a bad tree, nor pure water from a corrupt fountain. The principle of pure temperance, which aged men in the church are to develop, practically, is not found in the corrupt heart of poor, depraved human nature. An evil man, out of the evil treasure of his evil heart, will bring forth practically, that which is evil, no matter how many secret oaths he may take, nor how many paper pledges he may sign, to the contrary. True gospel temperance is the result of the gracious work of God, within the soul. It is a principle that is found in that “new heart” and the “right spirit” which the Lord has promised to give his chosen and redeemed people. Ezek. 36:26. It is therefore, in perfect harmony with sound doctrine, to preach that aged men in the church be sober, grave and temperate. They arc only required to be in practice what they are already in principle, and develop that which the spirit of Christ has given them a longing desire to do. Their age and experience are often regarded with veneration by the younger members of the church. They should therefore, be very careful on that account, to set them a good example as well as give them good advice.

 

Let them be temperate in eating, temperate in drinking, temperate in working or in resting, temperate in speaking or in thinking. In the order of nature, aged men must soon be removed from the church. “They have no continuing city here.” Intemperance of any kind will be hurtful to them and mar the virgin beauty of their holy profession, and bring shame and sorrow upon them in their last and declining days. Let them be temperate in their aspirations after money or earthly glory. It is proper to lawfully obtain anything if properly used according to the spirit and letter of the gospel. Money too often becomes the idol of the heart, and even the in ordinate love of it has caused some who professed the faith of the gospel to err from the faith and “pierce themselves through with many sorrows.” Many, indeed very many, who have never been successful in acquiring much money, have been greatly ensnared by their lustful thirst for it, thereby led into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which draw men in perdition and destruction. Let us therefore heed the solemn and pathetic warning of the holy apostle. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things.” Get away from them, for they are dangerous and hurtful to your own spiritual peace and comfort, as well as to the love and fellowship of others in the church. The intemperate use of the things of this world for the gratification of pride, vanity or any carnal lust or passion, by aged men in the church, has a bad influence upon the younger members. It is setting them a bad example, and among other evils which will result from it, the poor and the destitute will be neglected, the gospel minister will go mostly at his own charges, church meetings and conferences will be neglected or very irregularly attended, and when attended, the conversation will be mostly of a light and worldly character pertaining to the affairs of this life, rather than the things of the church and kingdom of Jesus. Most of the church will become carnally-minded and the apostle says, “to be carnally minded is death.”

 

But I must not now dwell so exclusively upon this particular point. There is another feature of intemperance and even drunkenness, of which the Scriptures speak, to which I will very briefly call your attention. It is a religious intemperance. Persons may become so infatuated with false doctrines and drink so copiously of the wine of Babylon as to become religiously drunk. And I am not certain but that many subjects of saving grace have erred from the truth in this way. The prophet saith, “They have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment For all places are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.” Isa. 28:7. How forcibly does this represent religious intoxication and its dread consequences, “They err in vision.” They can not see things right. When I have drank too freely of this kind of wine of which the world is so fond, they can not “see eye to eye, nor all speak the same things.” “They err in vision, they stumble in judgment.” Their reason is partially dethroned. They find a tumbling block in their judgment, of every important case concerns the peace and fellowship of the church. “All tables are full of vomit and filthiness, there is no place clean.” False zeal is manifested and false doctrines are preached-—belched forth, and vomited up from the drunken carcass till every place where it is allowed and practiced, becomes defiled and filthy. Let the saints of God beware of this kind of carnal, worldly religion. It leads to the persecution of the humble followers of Jesus. “I saw, (says the Apostle) the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Rev. 17:6. Beware then of religious and political intemperance, Aged men sometimes as well as young men, get politically drunk.

 

However, I am here again reminded that I must pass from this to the next point, respecting what is enjoined upon aged men. That is, they should be sound in the faith. Faith is sometimes spoken of in the Scriptures as referring to Christ the object of faith, or him in whom our faith is. He is the sole object. Author and Finisher of all genuine faith. A feigned or pretended faith is not sound. It is corrupt, like the man who has it. It is all of himself of like himself, and very unbecoming the nature and character of the Gospel of Christ. That faith which men claim to be partly of the Lord and partly of themselves is not sound and those who claim such are not sound in the faith.

 

Again, faith is very often spoken of as embracing the whole of the doctrine and order of the Gospel. Doubtless this is what we arc to understand by the solemn warning of the apostle, to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” Jude ver. 3. Also where it is written, “Examine ourselves whether ye be in the faith.” 2 Cor. 13:5. Here is a faith “once delivered to the saints,” and to none others. It is the doctrine and order of God’s house once, and but once, delivered to the saints by inspiration. It never has been, nor never will be, improved upon, amended, enlarged, or annulled, till time shall end. The man of God by it is “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. 3:17. Any attempt to incorporate with the faith the doctrines of men, or anything based upon the wisdom of men, would show a corruption of the faith unbecoming the holy nature of the Gospel. We should examine ourselves whether we be in the faith in a doctrinal point of view, and also practically. If we be corrupt in either of those points, we are not sound in the faith. And possibly, one reason why aged men are so specially mentioned is because of the influence that age and example have upon the young. We very naturally look to those of long experience in life to have more extensive views and more matured judgment than younger members can have on many important points of Gospel doctrine and order. If they are sound in the faith of the Gospel; their influence, their example, their admonitions to the church, their warnings, rebukes and mild humble spirit will have a healthful influence and tend greatly to form the character and shape the future peace and fellowship of the church for days and years to come.

 

It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that, not only Titus, but all Gospel ministers and pastors of churches, “Speak the things that become sound doctrine, that aged men be sound in the faith.”

 

Having given so much time to the foregoing, I must now hasten to another relation in life, and see what the Lord enjoins upon “aged women” in the church. To preach, and live and act in a manner becoming sound doctrine, “Let aged women, likewise, must be in behavior as becometh holiness: not false accusers; not given to much wine; teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husband that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

 

Notwithstanding the people of God in their spiritual relation to Christ “are all one in him,” and there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, yet the inspired writers clearly recognize all those natural relations of life which God has establish among men in their worldly state.

 

Christianity and the quickening influence of God’s Spirit are confined to no one class of men or women, to no one age or relation in life, nor to any color or condition in society, whether rich or poor, wise or unwise. As, therefore, all classes, conditions, ages and sexes are represented and embraced in the salvation that is in Jesus, and in that respect are one in Him, component members of the same body, they are sometimes addressed in their collective capacity as the church and body of Christ, and sometimes in their individual capacity, according to their age, or sex, or other relations in life.

 

And now we have before us the law of Christ concerning women in the church: “likewise” as well as others— “that they be in behavior as becometh holiness.”

 

Holiness in its highest and most superlative sense applies to God alone. It is that spotless and incorruptible purity that can not know any change or decay. It is the very essence of His being to be holy and pure. “Glorious in holiness, fearful in praises.” “Righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” No created being can be considered holy in this high sense in which God is holy. Holiness, however, has another meaning. Whatever God has set apart or consecrated to His service, giving special rules as to the manner it is to be used as distinguished from its ordinary or common use, that person or thing is to be regarded as holy. God has by special command set it apart and devoted it to His service, whether it be man or beast, things animate or inanimate. Hence we read in the Scriptures of the whole nation of Israel being a “holy people unto the Lord,” because they were set apart by the special choice of God to be His people in a special and peculiar sense “above all people upon the face of the earth.” They were, therefore, holy in that sense, and required to be in behavior as became that consecration.

 

In like manner, also, there were holy pots, holy vessels and holy garments, because they had been set apart by the special decree and choice of God, to be used in a sacred sense in distinction from common use. And to use these sacred things as things common, was to defile them, and bring sin and a curse on him who dared so to do.

 

Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and every truly converted person is set apart by the special choice and decree of God to the service of the Lord. They are set apart not only by the choice of God, but also “by the washing of regeneration and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” They are made “partakers of the divine nature,” and the Lord has imparted to them His Holy Spirit. They are born again of an incorruptible seed by the word of God, that liveth and abideth forever. They are the workmanship of God, “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he hath before ordained that they should walk in them.”—Eph. 2:10. They are therefore, a holy people unto the Lord, set apart from the world by a work of grace specially unto his service. Aged women, therefore, not withstanding their age, their infirmities, and the weakness of their sex, or the trials and temptations of life, are to be in behavior as becomes holiness. Being thus called by grace and devoted to the service of God, does not dissolve any awful or natural relation of life nor release them from any lawful obligation as a wife or as a mother. But it rather qualifies them the better to understand and fulfill these obligations in the true sense and spirit of them. To be in behavior as, becometh their holy profession they must not be “false accusers.” This would be very unbecoming their sacred character as holy women devoted to the service of the Lord. They “must not be given to much wine.” What a blot, what a shame, and what a pollution this would be, to an aged woman in the church! It would be very unbecoming holiness.

 

Not only are aged women to be taught what to guard against, and what they should not be, but also what they should be. They should be “teachers of good things.” Aged women and mothers very often feel that they are of no use in the church, or that there is nothing required of them, and therefore they take but little interest or feel but little concern about what is going on. This is a great mistake. They are very specially noted in the Scriptures. Women first bore tidings of the resurrection of Jesus even to the apostles, and Christ noticed them with special regard and distinction as weeping at his crucifixion. “Help those women,” says Paul, “that labored with me in the Gospel.” They can be, and ought to be, teachers of good things—things which are right, and becoming their holy profession, and becoming their age and their sex. God has placed them in the body as it has pleased Him, and they move in a sphere of life, and stand in such relation to the younger women, as to well adapt them to be “teachers of good things;” to teach the young women by their advice and by their example, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands.” And all this is that the “word of God be not blasphemed.” Is there not, then, a great duty and responsibility resting upon aged women? Are they not responsible if the word of God is blasphemed through their neglect of those duties and obligations? There is much depending on the love of the young woman to her husband, or of the young mother to her children. The peace and happiness of families, neighborhoods, societies, governments, and also of churches, is frequently destroyed by the broils of domestic life. The relation of husband and wife, parents and children, is established by divine authority, and to disregard the rules by which that relation is to be regulated, is to trample the authority of Christ under foot and “blaspheme the word of God,” by setting it at naught as an unholy thing. Let aged women, therefore, beware lest their example and influence, or their neglect, cause this awful sin to rest upon them. There is no doubt but that all Christians whether young or old, feel their insufficiency to properly fulfill and discharge the obligations that becomes their holy profession; yet, however far short they may seem to come, for their encouragement let me here say, that if they have an inward love for the holy principle, and an earnest, longing desire to conform to, and practically carry out, those blessed rules in obedience to the Lord and for the glory of His name, this very love and this fervent desire is something good and may be set down to their credit. It is strong evidence that they are truly of the household of faith. Do you admire and love the law of Christ in your very heart? Do you wish, desire and pray to be conformed to it? Do you mourn over your feeling sense of shortcomings, your failures, and violations of the law of Christ and of the order of His house? Then you still have something to comfort you. You have the signs and marks that you are a child of God, and that his law is written in your heart, and in that sense He dwells with you and walks in you, and his promise is that he will be “a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord.”

 

All Christians have trials, but young wives and mothers, being in a peculiar and new relation in life, have many trials to meet with which they have never met before; some of those trials are well calculated to provoke anger. Discretion then is needed to defer your anger, and pass over a transgression. Adapt your to the surroundings and make the best of them you can. A prudent choice of things and calm discretion will often bring good out of seeming evils. Re remember that these conflicts are a kind of test matter to test the sincerity of your Christianity and love. They will show you the power of sin and the all-conquering and subduing power of sovereign grace. They will show you, dear young sisters and voting wives and mothers, that though you mourn over your weakness, your shortcomings, and failures and that though sin abounds to mar, and sometimes apparently almost destroy, your peace of soul, yet grace much more abounds. God’s grace is an over-match for sin, or for your failures in duty. He has promised to help you, and He is not slack or forgetful of his promises. “A fair woman without discretion is like a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout.”—Proverbs 11:22. We may therefore see by the comparison which Solomon has introduced, the great importance of a fair young woman being discreet, and also the importance of aged women teaching them in due time and manner to exercise discretion. A “jewel of gold” is very beautiful and precious, but it is misplaced and put to a very had use when it is placed in a “swine’s snout.” So is a fair woman without discretion to guide her in many of the surrounding conflicts and trials of life. She is exposed to many improprieties and evils, and liable, like the jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, to be plunged at any time into the mud and filth of some indiscreet and vain, worldly thing. How often have the younger women in the church brought shame and distress upon themselves and others by some indiscreet word or deed! Let aged women, therefore, teach them to be discreet.

 

But this is not all that devolves upon the aged women to teach to the younger ones. God has placed them in such near’ relation to them, and the sphere of life in which they move gives them such qualifications and opportunities for being useful as “teachers of good things” to the younger women, as to most wonderfully adapt them to the sacred duty which the Lord has assigned them. Let them see that they are not slack concerning the discharge of this duty. Many evils will befall both social and domestic life, and also society and the church, if aged women in the church are remiss or deficient in the church in these things.

 

Not only are they to teach the young women to be discreet, but to be chaste also. Chastity is purity, plain simplicity, and undefiled character. Not that young women are in their nature anything different from other people. They have the same appetites, passions and lusts that others have. All Christians are required to be chaste, faithful, honest and pure in their fidelity to Christ. But as young women who are just starting in life in the capacity of young wives and mothers, are then much exposed to trials and temptations, it is a very opportune time to teach them the importance of purity of character, not only as mothers, but as Christians and church members. Let them be reminded that, however useless and ignorant they may feel to be in the church, yet our God has given them special notice, and singled them out in a distinct and special manner, as young women who are to be chaste. They should be chaste and pure in their thoughts, their words, and their conversation. It is becoming in a lady, a woman, a mother and a Christian to be free from sensuality, or any foolish and hurtful lust that would blot their character or mar the beauty and purity of their Christian profession. It is becoming the nature and character of the Gospel of Christ that the whole church be pure as a “chaste virgin unto Christ.” Any violation of His law which regulates our relation in life here in the church, would defile the garment of our profession—and, worse still, it would “blaspheme the word of God” by setting it at naught or trampling it under foot as unworthy of our sacred observance.

 

Chaste and pure conversation, free from lusts, sensuality or vanity has a very happy influence in a family a neighborhood, or church. The apostle Peter refers specially to Christian wives who are so unfortunate as to have infidel or unbelieving husbands who have no regard for the word of God. Yet the chaste conversation of the wife, which the unbelieving husband beholds, may possibly win him to more reverence and respect for the word.—1 Pet. 3:2.

 

But I am here reminded by the coldness of the day, and by my own frailty, that too much time is being consumed even to attempt a brief notice of every point in this connection.

 

Let us, therefore, leave any further consideration of the subject as relates especially to aged women, young women, wives and mothers, and notice what the apostle requires Gospel ministers to speak to young men. In the 6th verse he says: "Young men, likewise, ye be sober-minded.” On this point I have but little at present to say, further than to remind you that no class, age or sex is left out or to be passed by without some special word of instruction, admonition, reproof or comfort. God has placed the members in the body as it has please him. He has called them by his grace with a holy calling, and by one Spirit are they all baptized into one body, and made to drink into one Spirit. There is a need for all even the feeblest and the youngest in Christian profession. “The foot cannot say to the hand I have no need for thee nor the hand to the foot. There is a duty, a work, an official responsibility resting upon each and every member in the church, to carefully fill the office appointed to him. “Young men”—God gives you special notice, singles you out by name and age, and calls, qualifies, sends forth, and commands His ministers to “exhort” you to be “sober-minded.” It is for your good and for God’s glory—else it would not be enjoined upon you by such high and holy authority. Young men are apt to be vain, ambitious, and visionary. It is, therefore, the more needful that they have a timely warning to be sober minded. It is opposed to that wild, reckless course which both young and old sometimes fall into, and against which all have need to be guarded. Sobriety of mind is needed continually, whether in social or domestic life, or whether in our worldly or church relation. It will tend greatly to cause you to look at facts as they really exist, and to govern your conduct accordingly in the most wise and prudent manner, rather than he recklessly driven by excitement, passion or prejudice to do that which in the end would bring shame, remorse or distress upon yourselves or others. It will greatly assist you in the choice, progress and success of every laudable business avocation in life. It will assist you to put a proper estimate upon men and things, so as not to be carried away with delusive errors or flattering words. Sobriety of mind is useful in the church. Young men in the church now will soon be old men, if they are suffered to remain a little longer here. They will looked to for advice, counsel and example. Now is the time to lay a good foundation of sobriety of thought and manner. Take a sober-minded view of yourself and others. Exercise it in the view you take of the doctrine and order of the Gospel. Do not run into wild, fanciful and speculative theories which have no tendency to edify Christians or strengthen the bond of union and love among them. Exercise sobriety of mind in considering the weakness, failings and errors of others. In short, let this godly principle be practically developed in every relation of life. This, however, can not be expected without a struggle. There will be some opposing element to test the sincerity of your motive. If the true principle is written in the heart by the spirit of the Lord, it will seek to overcome and remove all those opposing obstacles which would prevent a practical manifestation of calm, sober-minded conduct. And young men, as Christians, have encouragement to persevere and be steadfast in the faith, not with their youth and the strength and vigor of youthful lusts. The apostle John says, “I write unto you young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”—l John 2:14.

 

The Lord called Samuel to minister in holy things when he was but a child. He very early impressed the youthful mind of David by the many trials and merciful deliverances through which he passed, so that in afterlife David says “Thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from my youth”— Psalm 71:5. This principle of sobriety like every other Gospel principle is written in the heart by the Spirit of the Lord. The development of this principle in every day life, in the most clear and practical manner, is what young men are to be exhorted to by every faithful Gospel minister. Where the principle does not exist in the soul at all, it can not be expected in practice.

 

But I come now to the consideration of the last point to which I shall call your attention today. It is a point, too, of vast and solemn importance to me, the contemplation of which often causes me to shrink away and feel very small. It is the sacred calling and solemn responsibilities of the true Gospel minister, as presented in these words “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptnesss, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that can not be condemned ; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” In all things showing thyself a pattern. Let it be remembered and treasured up in mind that it is the minister that is here specially addressed by the holy apostle of Jesus. While he is solemnly charged before the high and holy tribunal of Him who shall judge the quick and the dead, to “speak the things that become sound doctrine,” and point out clean the relative and common duties of aged men and aged women in the church, likewise of young men and young women, he is himself, in all things that he and teaches others, to show himself a pattern of good works, by properly filling that vocation whereunto the Lord has called him. He is to be “an example of believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit; in faith, in purity.” He cannot neglect the gift that is in him.—1 Tim. 4:12 , 14. In all the good works that he would urge upon others his own practical life should be a pattern. The outside world, as well as the church, will firm its judgment of what a man is by what he does, more than by what he says. Faith can only be shown or made manifest to others by works—principle by practice. Even a tree is known by its fruit whether it be a good or bad tree. A fountain is known to be pure or corrupt according to the character of the waters it sends forth. A professed minister who should speak good things in the letter, and yet live a loose or corrupt life, would not, he filling the calling of a true gospel minister as an example unto believers, nor a pattern of good works, if he teaches that aged men in the church be sober, grave, temperate, and sound in the faith, let him show by his own practical life that he is a pattern in these fruits and graces of the Spirit. If he is known to give way continually to the influence of stonily passions, having no self rule nor self possession, how can he teach sobriety to others in a measure fully up to his duty and calling? If he is fickle, vain, light and displays much frivolity, levity, and foolish conversation, how can he teach others gravity? How can he thus he a pattern of good works, or an example of believers? Are these light and sensual things marks of faith in Christ? Are they not rather spots and blemishes of the flesh? Should not filthy conversation and corrupting anecdotes be regarded as a loath some moral leprosy, corrupting the general character of the whole man, and thereby making him unfit for the ministerial calling? If a man preaches that others should not steal, let him not steal himself. If he preach that others should be sober, grave and temperate, let him be a pattern in these things. If a preacher drinks too much whiskey, or other intoxicating drinks, he commits sin—his example is not good, and he does not speak the things that are becoming sound doctrine by word and deed. A man may be called a gentle man, but to be worthy of the name he must act as becomes a gentleman. It is one thing to be called a lady, and quite another thing to speak and act as becomes a lady. So, also, sound doctrine is one thing, but to speak the things that become sound doctrine is quite another. Some may think when they have preached sound doctrine they have fully discharged their whole duty as Gospel ministers. But this is a great mistake, so long as they omit to speak of the manifestation of this doctrine in the practical lives of themselves and others. A man must not only preach the doctrine of Christ, but he must live it also. His own practical life must exemplify and show forth the pure and holy nature of the doctrine, as having a transforming power and influence in regulating his conduct in life, so as to form his general character as one who walks worthy of the vocation where the Lord has called him. Gospel ministers, and all other Christians, should be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving themselves.”—James 1:22.


If any one should think that it is a light thing to be a Gospel preacher, or that there is anything in it calculated to nurture pride, to vanity, or to puff up the carnal nature of man, he is greatly mistaken, and knows nothing yet of the holy nature and solemn responsibilities of an ambassador of Christ. He is to “give no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed; in all things approving himself as the minister of Christ; in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings. By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness. On the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report. As chastened, and not killed; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.”— 2 Cor. 6:3, 10. Now, I think it will be seen by any reflecting mind, that to maintain a calm, pure and blameless life, under all these varied and trying things as indicated and set forth in the above quotations, a man must be sustained by a principle and a power above that of himself. It is the power of God’s sustaining and strengthening grace working in him, whereby he stands fast, and is enabled in all things to “show himself a pattern of good works,” or an “example of believers”; “giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed.” The ministry has a most wonderful influence informing the morals, manners, and character of their brethren. Often, too, it is to be lamented that their imprudent, self-willed, or ambitious course causes much confusion and distress in the church or churches. It breaks the fellowship of Christians. In such instances they are to be blamed—and they are not in all things showing themselves of good works, nor examples to believers.


I will now offer a few concluding remarks. Notwithstanding the importance that the apostles have given to the practical duties of Christians, I will here remark that not one, nor all, of these duties, fruits and graces of the Spirit, will make a Christian. They do not procure the eternal salvation nor conversion of sinners. They do not procure the first quickening of the Spirit, the new birth, nor the washing of regeneration. They do not secure the everlasting love of God, nor make the death and intercession of Jesus meritorious and efficacious on the part of any sinner. They are, however, fruits and evidences necessary to exemplify the reality and truth of our profession. They are signs and marks of the Lord’s work of grace within us. They manifest and prove that we are already born of the Spirit, washed in the washing of regeneration, and freely justified by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. They set forth that we are walking worthy of God, who hath called us unto his kingdom and glory.


We all have duties and responsibilities resting on us individually as Christians. To whom much is given, the more is required. The responsibilities of an apostle of Jesus were much greater than of evangelists, pastors or teachers. They had extraordinary gifts and endowments of the Spirit to enable them to meet those responsibilities. Still, there were times with them as there is now with all Gospel ministers and private members, when they felt the contrast to be so great between what was required of them as apostles and what they felt to be as men that they exclaimed: “Who is sufficient for these things?” This very feeling sense of weakness and insufficiency brought them to look for strength elsewhere, and apply to the true source for help. Thus the apostle answeth his own searching question: “Our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.”— 2 Cor. 3:5.


And now, dear brethren, sisters and friends, whether as ministers or private members, young or old, male or female, everywhere and in every relation of life—we are accountable to God for our stewardship. Our help and strength are in Him and of Him. Let us be mindful of the admonition to be kind and affectionate one to another. Be pitiful towards the weak, the ignorant and the afflicted ones. Be careful not to hurt nor oppress one another. Do not mistreat nor oppress God’s ministers, nor hamper them in any unjust or unlawful way, by word or deed, in the discharge of their heavy and responsible duties. Help one another. “Warn the unruly, support the weak, comfort the feeble-minded, and he patient towards all men.” And let me add, as saith the apostle: “See that none render evil for evil.” 1 Thess. 5:14.


May the blessing of the Lord rest upon us.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 September 2008 )
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Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.