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Concerning Deacons PDF Print E-mail
Written by Walter Cash   


 
    No authority questions it being apostolic to have an officer of the church known as deacon.  But in no one particular have the Primitive Baptists, and all religious organizations, come so near disregarding the apostolic mark as in the use of this office.
 

General Neglect of the Office.

    As to being apostolic, Catholics and Protestants can make no showing doctrinally, as compared with the Primitive Baptists; but when it comes to this one office of the church, though Arminian bodies have generally disregarded the power and degree of the office, and the Primitive Baptists in this particular make a better showing, yet when it comes to the practical work of the office we behind our people have fallen far short, and in many places have practically abolished the office, except in form.

    Primitive Baptist churches, claiming to be the churches of Jesus Christ, should have a better record than this.  We should not only be apostolic in doctrine, but in the practice as well.  When there is apostolic authority for but two classes of church officers, then for us to abolish one of them in practice, is departing too far for those who love the doctrine of grace, and who would prove that they love the Master by keeping his commandments.

    Some may question these statements being warranted, but ministers who are acquainted with the practice of the churches, and who have given the matter proper study, know that the facts sustain them.

    These pages have been written to call attention to practices undoubtedly authorized and commanded by the scriptures.  To this end I wish to examine the office of the deaconship in the light of the Sacred Word and try to point out to the best of my ability a course approved by it.
 

Importance of the Subject.
 
   First, I would like to engage the attention of the reader with the importance of the subject.  Suppose some person should assert that sprinkling is just as good as immersion for baptism.  What answer would a Primitive Baptist make?  No doubt he would say, "Our Lord commanded believers to be baptized.  Christ's own example shows that he understood baptism to be immersion in water, for he was baptized in the river Jordan and came up out of the water.  Every allusion or example, so far as given, shows that the apostles and believers of their day understood baptism to be immersion.  Since the apostles' time there has been no power authorized to change any doctrine or practice delivered to the church.  So one who is not immersed cannot have Christian baptism, and if we receive anything else for baptism we at once lose our right to claim that we are churches of Jesus Christ, because we have a baptism that is not apostolic."

    So with the doctrines of the church.  We contend that if a church departs from the doctrines of the Bible and persists in such error, she loses her identity with the church of Christ.

    Now if some Arminian should turn these arguments against us and ask, "What was the work of the New Testament deacons?" and then ask if Primitive Baptist deacons do a like work, what would we say?  Then if it should be urged that because of this lack or error, we have not a right to call ourselves churches of Christ, what defense can we make, except we can truthfully say we still believe in the duties prescribed for deacons just as taught in the scriptures, and this difference in the practice of our deacons and New Testament deacons is only a temporary falling off or deviation and not because we have rejected the New Testament teaching?

    If the difference in practice arises because we have actually usurped the authority to change the duties of the office, as some have done, then the reason we assign for not recognizing the various organizations as churches of Jesus Christ, falls with dreadful weight upon us and denies our claims, too.

    But if we can be said to still hold the theory of the office as it was in the days of the apostles, and it is only the indifference of our members that causes us to fail in our practice, how can we expect the blessings of the Lord when we say, but do not do the things He has left on record for us to follow?  Are not these considerations of sufficient weight to prompt us to an immediate investigation of God's word to see how our practice agrees with it.
 


Chastisement For Neglect.

    I hope no one who reads these pages will feel that it makes no difference!  In the eyes of Him who taught that we are to follow Him, every obedience and disobedience is important.  We may look at ancient Israel and see this principle clearly taught, and no doubt their experiences are recorded that we may learn from them the real issues of life to the child of God.

    As we now view their journeying we see what ingratitude it showed to God to depart from His laws, and bring in observances which He had positively forbidden.  They no doubt felt at first when they went astray that it was of little consequence, and that God would not take notice of what they did to hold them to account for every violation.  Sometimes, no doubt, they believed if their practice was according to the traditions of the elders, it would be all the justification needed.  But when Christ came, how severe His denunciations of those who through tradition made void the word of God!

    Beware, brethren, lest we take a course similar to that disobedient and stiff-necked people.  We should remember our God is a jealous God and His glory He will not give to another.  He will not allow His people to follow the traditions or heresies of men and pour His blessings upon their course.  To do this would be to make His laws of no effect.  If we may do them or not do them, and the result will be the same, then His laws are of no consequence.  But Primitive Baptists can never admit such a theory as this.  "He is our Lawgiver."  There be lord's many and gods many, but unto us there is one God (1 Cor. viii. 5,6.)


Return to Authorized Practice.

   If we have deacons we want New Testament deacons in practice.  As our deacons fill an office recognized by God's word, they should do it in a manner approved by that authority.  If our churches have gone astray upon this subject, they will have to repent---leave off the present practices---and return to that warranted by the word of God.

    We may expect to find opposition.  Our people may follow tradition and when they do so, they are as loth to give up such things as others; in fact they seem in some cases to hold to them with greater tenacity, for they get to thinking of their practice as being approved of God, and, generally, what an Old Baptist esteems as coming from God he does not readily give up, for we are taught to view His teachings with greater reverence than other people do.

    So we cannot expect to see a change in a few days or months, or even years; it will require patience and continued effort for the truth.  But no true soldier will falter on this account.  It is our duty and our high privilege, to contend for the Lord's way and word and leave the result entirely in his hand.  By reading the history of ancient Israel we may see that wrong practices often found their way in among them, and when they had to suffer for it, then they would be induced to put the evil away from them.  May we not hope the Israel of our God will arise now and put every evil way behind her, and trusting in the God of Abraham, take his law as the only rule of faith and practice?  She should not be satisfied to merely believe the doctrine of grace, she should obey her Lord.
 

The Term in The New Testament.

   I come now to consider the office of the deaconship.  The Greek word which is translated "deacon" in the New Testament means, servant, attendant, waiter.  This word in its verbal and noun forms occurs one hundred one times in the New Testament, but it is only rendered "deacon" five times.  It is rendered "minister" sixy-four(sp - my insertion) times and "servant" twenty-one times.  In its general meaning of ministering, it is applied to pious women (Matt. xxvii. 55), to brethren (Matt. xxv. 44), to preachers (Eph. vi. 21), to apostles (Acts i. 17), to angels ( Mark i. 13), and to Christ (Matt. xx. 28).

    But it is used in a special sense to indicate an officer of the New Testament church and should be used by us in the same way to denote the same thing today.

    That there is another office besides that of elder indicates that other work is to be done besides ministering the word.  To judge from the practice of some churches, only one officer is needed, (a preacher,) and he shorn of all power to look after the interest of the flock, except at communion time a deacon is needed to pass the bread and wine to the brethren.


Connection With the Lord's Supper.

     I will here state that I have never read a text of scripture, nor have I ever heard anyone use one that taught that the deacon rather than any other person, should pass the bread and wine.  Some refer to Acts vi. 2, where it is said by the apostle that it was not meet for the apostles to leave the word of God and "serve tables," and these "tables" are taken to be the tables spread at the Lord's supper, but it has no reference to such at all.  The "tables" the apostle did not have time to serve, was daily ministering to the Grecian widows, who were being neglected because the disciples were multiplied.

    How much time is saved to the minister by the deacon passing the bread and wine?  What does the minister do at that time that he could not do as well and pass the emblems himself?  So far as I know this is the only passage referred to, and it is evident upon consideration that this had no reference whatever to the communion table.

    But as it is not stated just who may, or who may not, assist as communion seasons, our custom of having the deacons to do so is not in violation of God's word.  But instead of this being their principal duty it is only one of the many things that may be laid upon them as being in harmony with the character of the work to be expected of deacons.

    It would be more in keeping with the exact wording of our Lord when any brother has been served, for him to pass the bread or wine to another brother, so long as all are conveniently situated, and only call for the deacon's assistance when brethren are not convenient to each other.  As to providing the emblems, and the articles necessary for the communion, it is evident from the nature of the deacon's work that he should do this.

    I will here remark that the objection of some deacons to passing the bread and wine at churches where they may be visiting, and are not acquainted with all the members, seems to be well taken, for they are liable to miss some, and to offer them to others who should not partake of them.  I have known persons to take of the communion under such circumstances who were not members of the Old Baptist church at all.  They had no scruples themselves, and took license from the fact that the emblems were passed to them.  It is presumed that a deacon will know who is entitled to eat at his home church.
 

God's Plan Embraces the Deaconship.

    Coming to the occasion for the appointment of deacons in the apostolic church, it will be found that there was work for them to do, and of such character that it was necessary to select men especially fitted to do it.  This is one peculiarity of the church of Christ, work is to be done by persons especially fitted for it.  The work of deacons was principally to handle and distribute money, or its equivalent.

    The militant church of Christ is made up of men and women who, though born of God, are subject to life's ills and needs, and he who had wisdom to build the earth and sky, and all things therein, did not set up his church and overlook this important fact.  Christ affirms, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things," and everything proves that he does, and that he who hears the ravens when they cry, and see the sparrows when they fall, cares for us in all life's sufferings (1 Pet. v. 7).

    I have heard unthinking brethren affirm that their church had no money system in it.  While I feared they were telling the truth, I knew if it was true, their church, in that respect at least, was not apostolic.  He who set up the church keeps all worlds in motion by a law that will never fail until his purpose has been worked out and He himself shall bid it stop.  Would he, who always went about doing good, healing the sick and relieving the distress of the poor, forget that there would be poor in the church in the ages then to come?  O, no, for he said, The poor ye have with you always (Mark xiv. 7).

    Is the theory of men correct that Jesus made no arrangements for caring for the poor and distressed and keeping up the ministry, and that now it is necessary to organize societies and helps for that purpose, the church not being adapted for such work?
 

God's Plan for the Church Complete.

    No, a thousand times no!  The church as set up by our Master is all complete and nothing lacking.  And as the law he gave the sun shall keep it shining as long as he designs without having to be renewed so the system he devised for equalizing the burdens among the members of the church of Christ will never need revision, nor that anything be added to it.  We do not need ministerial boards nor aid societies that our ministers may give themselves to him who has called them.  The church in herself has every needed arrangement, and it will be found perfectly adequate to every emergency when our people trust in God and obey his word.  We need never trouble ourselves to devise a plan for anything connected with the church of Christ, everything is already devised and laid down in God's word, and we may be sure if the plan we are following is not laid down there it will not be successful in the accomplishment of a Bible end.

    Deacons were chosen to take charge of the funds of the church as a part of their work.
 

The Seven Were Deacons.

    Some question that the seven (Acts vi.3) were deacons.  But from the fact that there were deacons in the churches later on, and no authority for the office is given except this in Acts vi., and that the duty is set forth in that chapter and elsewhere is in harmony with the meaning of the word, I conclude that the seven were deacons. 

A Fund to be Maintained.

    That the church had a fund will appear from the fact that as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and laid the price at the apostles' feet (Acts iv. 34, 35).  From the common fund so formed the apostles made distribution to all as they had need.  But the number of the disciples increased until the apostles were unable to see to the needs of all, and some of the Grecian widows were neglected.  The apostles had also to preach, and there was not time to attend to both matters (Acts vi. 1).  As the work of caring for these widows was the express purpose for which the seven were set apart, it is certainly a legitimate conclusion that the church fund passed into their hands.

    Even prior to the crucifixion of our Lord a common fund was provided as will be seen from the fact that when they sat at meat before Judas has betrayed our Lord, Judas was in charge of what money was needful for Jesus and the twelve.  Some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus has said unto him, "Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or that he give something to the poor."---John xiii.29.

    From this we learn that Jesus had been training the disciples in the course they afterwards recommended to the church.  Christ and his apostles had a common fund and they used it to supply their needs and to help the poor.  If it had not been the practice to give to the poor out of that fund the disciples would not have thought that Judas had been told to do anything of the kind.

    Who supplied the fund we are not told, but as the disciples were all poor, and there is no record that they stopped to work, expect when they went fishing, we may believe, without drawing very hard on our imagination, that there were friends of the cause of Christ who were in position to help and had liberal hearts.

    The fact that Judas had the purse, and was a devil, has nothing to do with its being right or wrong.  Up to this time he had been a follower of Christ, and there is no proof that he did not do as the other disciples did.  Judas followed Christ, but that does not make it wrong to be a follower of Christ.
 

No Fund, No Need For Deacons.

    Now if a church has no fund, and will not maintain one, it has no use for deacons.  Any member may use his own funds for the relief of the needy, but it is the business of a deacon to use the funds of the church for that purpose.  I have known churches to ordain deacons when it was not the intention of the members of the church to put anything into their hands, at any rate they did not.  This is to trifle with solemn obligations and make much ado over form and deny the plain teachings of God's word.  If the elders of the churches who form presbyteries would be true to their convictions, they would say to the churches when called on in such cases, we will not use our authority to put a brother in an office knowing that you will withhold that from him which is necessary to the performance of his duty.  To ordain a deacon in a church that will not keep any funds in his hands is to lay upon him a solemn responsibility and then have the church tie his hands and force him to non-compliance with the obligations of his office.

    A brother chosen in a church to be deacon, knowing it had not been the practice of the church to keep any funds, and having reason to believe that unless they viewed the matter different to the general impression among the members there would be nothing put into his hands, might well refuse to submit to ordination until there was a more scriptural understanding on the subject.

   These questions should be answered, not only by the brother chosen deacon, but by the members of the church as well:
    1.  Is there necessity for deacons in the church?
    2.  What is the duty of the church to the deacon?
    3.  What is the duty of the deacon?
    4.  What are the qualification of a deacon?
 
   
1.  Necessity for Deacons.

    With the view that there is no duty for the deacon but to assist at the communion, it cannot be made out that there is any necessity at all.  As before stated, there is no passage of scripture indicating that any member of the church might not properly do the work the deacon usually does at the communion.

    If the view be taken that he is only to look after the spiritual interests of the members, then his place is more eminently filled by the ministry, and if there is necessity for more careful oversight, spiritually, then there should be more elders, or the pastor in charge should give himself more wholly to the work.  From the standpoint there is no necessity whatever of choosing deacons.
 
To Take Charge of Church Funds.

    The necessity, as it is stated in the New Testament, is to take charge of financial matters and look after the needs of the members of the church, being supplied with the means to do this by the voluntary contributions of the members.

    I repeat, if a church does not intend to keep funds in the hands of her deacons she does not need deacons.

    It may be said in reply to this that it is the duty of the deacons to look about and see if there are any poor, or needed expenses, or if the pastor needs help, and report it to the church and get instructions what to do and receive supplies from the church.
 

Not Simply to Report to Church.

    I would say in the first place, to admit this view a member who had but little judgment would make about as good a deacon as the one endowed with the greatest wisdom, for he would not be expected to exercise his judgment in any case, but must always wait until he has been directed just what to do, while the qualifications given indicate that he is to act on his own judgment.

    Then, in cases of immediate need, if the church met only once a month, as most of our churches do now, the needy brother or sister might pass in great suffering and distress beyond the need of anything ministered by human hands.

    But the objector to the fund suggests that in such case it would be the duty of the deacon to either contribute of his own means, or see the brethren and collect something.

    This is purely an innovation on God's way, as set forth in the Acts of the Apostles, and the example of the Primitive church.  Paul gave instruction that there be weekly collections, that when the time for the use of the funds arrived, there would need to be no collection taken (1 Cor. xvi. 1 2).  The deacon might be poor himself and not have enough to supply the needs of others, and it very often happens that very poor brethren are very prompt to do their duty, and make just as good deacons as any.

    Further, if the deacon is just to make report to the church of cases of need, any brother can do that, and there is no necessity for a special appointment.  the fact is this, it is the duty of all the members to report to the deacon.
 

The Office Not Needless.

    A church cannot do in a proper way, and most likely will not do at all, the things done by apostolic churches without active deacons.  The Lord has nothing done except for good reason.  If the church can do as well without deacons as with them, then what reason can be given for their appointment, unless the office is to be considered as ornamental rather than practical, simply a dignitary without a day.

   Certainly it will be conceded by all who revere the sacred word that there must have been, and is yet, a necessity for the deaconship in the church, not simply that the church may say she has a deacon, but that the work of the deacon may be done.  So a church should not be considered in complete working order until the work of the deacon is recognized and carried out.  When churches are organized after they have secured a pastor, and sometimes before, they choose deacons, the inference being, even when the statement is not made, that a church is not fully in working order without deacons.  But is clear in some cases that this is a mere recognition of the office, and not of the work of the office, for no attempt is made to make the deacon of any practical aid to the church and cause.  We should look deeper than mere form.  The fact that there were deacons in the apostolic church should be argument enough with Primitive Baptists that the office is necessary, and also if necessary then, necessary now, or else the apostolic church is not a pattern for all ages.  This admission would let in all the innovations of the day, which no Primitive Baptist could agree to at all.  As proof that there were deacons in the apostolic churches, see the following scriptures:  Acts vi. 3-6; Phil. i 1; 1 Tim. iii. 8-13.

    So if we are to lay claim to apostolic form in our churches we must have deacons, and it is certainly of more importance to have the work of the office done than it is to have the office.
 

II.  Duty of Church to Deacon.

Duty Not to the Man.

    As to the question, "What is the duty of the church to the deacon?"  If the members of the church do not recognize that there is a binding duty, the office might as well remain vacant.  It is not a duty to the man who is filling the office, but to the office work as a function of the church..  We do not care for the hand or the foot as having any dignity of themselves, but because they are a part of the body, and without them the body would be maimed.

    So must the office of the deaconship be considered.  Here is a function of the church to be performed through this office, and if she does not have this office, she either does not do the work, or does it in an unscriptural way.  The church should not choose a brother as a deacon to honor the man, but to use him as a servant to carry out the full work of the church.

    A church cannot raise a brother to the work of the ministry, that is God's work.  But she can put any brother into the deaconship who has the qualification, though there may be other brethren who are just as well fitted for the place who are not needed.  God appoints the minister to do a special work, and the church appoints the deacon to carry out the active work that falls to the church as an organization.


No Right to Annul Work of the Office.

    A church has as much right to do away with baptism as it has to do away with the work of the church that is to be done through deacons.  She may have deacons in form, and yet do away with the work of the deacon.  If a member of the church has never done anything through the deacon's hands, that member has done away with the work of the deacon so far as he is concerned, and has committed as much of an offense against the Great Head of the church as though he had attempted to make void anything else that belongs to the house of the Lord.  Indeed, it is hard to say if there is anything else connected with the church, except it be the ministry of the word, but could be struck down with less hurt than this.


To Ignore Deacons is Contempt for God.

    To appoint deacons and then ignore them in administering the financial part of the church's business is gross contempt for God's law as head of the church.  It would be as though an Israelite of old had said, I will ignore the priest who is to minister in the temple and do the work myself.  Many brethren make this statement in substance when they say they will not have the deacon to fill his office, but what they have to give they will give it themselves.

    If the apostolic church is to be taken as a pattern, (and if it is not we have none,) we must consider the deaconship as an office of God's own arranging and should hesitate as much to change it or abolish it as we would to change the doctrines given in the scriptures, and should feel that as great a curse will fall on us for the one as for the other.

    The deacon is the hand of the church that she stretches out to all who are in need, and to keep her affairs working in decency and in order.
 

Alms-Giving in Secret.

    Some brethren try to step behind this passage, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth," and conclude that what they do they must do very privately, not letting anyone know what they do, not even the deacon.

    This is plainly straining this passage to mean something it was never intended to mean at all.  It is wrong to make a display among men, and these words of the Savior were spoken in condemnation of such a practice.  In the same connection the Savior tells his disciples that when they pray they are to enter into their closets and pray in secret and not before men (Matt. vi. 5).

    Is it then wrong to pray in public?  Most of our church rules say that our services ought to be opened by singing and prayer.  According to this construction this would be wrong and no one ought to offer prayer in public.  The absurdity of this construction at once appears.

    It may be that brethren who have urged such a construction have done so, violating the true principle in their hearts.  It may be they wanted the recipient to know just whose liberality he received, and they did not put it into the hands of the deacon because then it would never be known by the recipient who made the contribution.

    Sometimes when there are several preachers at a meeting a brother wants his favorite preacher to know that he is appreciated, and prefers to give out of his own hand; for if it were given to the deacon it would be divided up and those who were in greatest need would get most, and his favorite would never know just how he had appreciated him.  This is the very spirit our Lord was condemning, and the plea is a mere pretext.  If one is willing that his liberality should not be advertised, let him put his gifts in with the common funds in the deacon's hands.
 

God's Way Through the Deaconship.

    If the church is to feel as she ought toward the deaconship it must be viewed as God's way of attending to certain affairs, and must be sacredly guarded from those who would change or abolish it.  If a brother be chosen by the church to be put into the deaconship it is his right to know that the church rightly understands her obligations to the office, and is disposed to recognize them, before assuming obligations himself that he cannot discharge unless the church will first do her
duty.
    A church should not consider the work of the deacon as apart from her own act, but every member should feel that God has made it his duty to do certain things, and that these things are to be done through the deaconship.

    The scriptures teach that we must be baptized and then leaves us no discretion as to manner or mode of baptism---we must be dipped in water.

    Now it is the duty of members of the church to do certain things, and then it is specified that this is to be done through the deacon's hands.  It is contempt for God and His word to say it can be done as well some other way.  The duty of the church to the deaconship is such that it is open rebellion to say to the deacon, "Stand thou here, we can do all there is to do without having need of thee."  What right has any member or individual to ignore or make void an office that has the approval of the Sacred Word!

    The duty of the members to this office is such that they should hold all their possessions subject to the needs of the church, as did the saints in the time of the apostles.  While it is not obligatory now, nor was it then, to sell one's property and put it into a common fund, yet the principle is that each brother should be willing to support the cause with all he has, and to that end should keep sufficient funds in the hands of the deacons to discharge the obligations of their office.


III.  What is the Duty of a Deacon?

    This is the next question to be considered by all the church in setting apart a deacon.

    It would appear strange that a church should ever set apart a member to a work when very few of the members understood clearly what that work was.  But such might be the case.  Every member should be able to answer the plain question, in choosing a deacon, "What is he to do?"  The necessity for this will be apparent upon reflection.  If the members of a church do not properly understand the duty of a deacon he will not be able to discharge his duty, if his performance in any way depends upon them, for they will not co-operate with him.  So a brother, when chosen by a church to this office, might very properly demand of them what they expected him to do.

    If the members only expected him to assist the pastor at the communion, and bear unkind criticism, as everyone put into any prominence must do, he might with good ground refuse to accept the responsibility because the church was not scriptural as to the duty of deacons.
 

Pastor Should Instruct Members.

    No pastor should permit a church of his care to go into the section of a deacon without thoroughly instructing them as to the duty of the deacon.  Here is where many of our pastors confess error, and failure to discharge their obligation.  Too often the only things considered are the moral qualifications of the deacon without respect to what the deacon is to do.

    How is it possible to decide on the qualifications of a person to an office without deciding what he is to do?

    Here is where many mistakes have been made.  Often, if a brother is exemplary in his walk and character as a man and a Christian, he is considered fit to be put into the deacon's office.
 

Qualifications For Special Work.

    But a man might be well fitted to be a judge on the bench who would make a very poor farmer or merchant, and the scriptures consider this, and point out the special qualifications of a deacon.  I appeal to every reader of these pages to decide in his own mind what a deacon is to do if he carries out the scriptural idea of the office.

    Certainly no member of the church should consider himself competent to enter into the choice of deacon without first defining to his own satisfaction the work of the deacon, and then considering the peculiar fitness of the brother who is to be set apart.
 

Deacons to feel Certain Things Are Required.

    The work of the deacon needs to be decided upon and understood by all, that the brother chosen to the office may be impressed with the fact that certain things are expected of him, and knowing it is the mind of all that he is to do these things, he will feel a greater obligation to discharge his duty.  For, if there is a diversity of opinion regarding his work, he can never act without the feeling that his course is disapproved by some, which is a very discouraging condition.

    But, if all the members are properly instructed, the deacon will feel encouraged to perform the duties of his office, knowing his work is known to all, and that a failure to do it will meet with criticism, while to act faithfully will endear him to all his brethren.

    It is, indeed, very essential that all the members understand what the work of the deaconship is, and that they do not regard it as separate and apart from their work, but rather the channel through which individual members and the whole church, are to discharge certain obligations.
 

To Supply All Who Need.

    By reference to Acts, 6th chapter, it will be very clearly seen that he is to make distribution of the church funds to all who have need.  None will contend that the church ought to neglect or overburden any of her members, but different brethren will propose different plans for equalizing the burdens and caring for all who should be ministered to.  This is ignoring God's plan, and certainly His plan must be the best.

    Some say that each brother or sister must act for himself or herself, and minister to all whom they find who have need.  Now, certainly, there is no other in God's word that would stand in the way of anyone taking this course.  But the members of churches are weak, human beings, and some who have plenty of means have little charity, and some who have great sympathy for the cause, and for the suffering, have but little means.  So, if left to themselves, the burden will fall most unequally, for many, who are able to help, will evade any occasion of bearing the burden of others, leaving the few who are willing, whether able or not, to do whatever is done.


To Equalize Burdens.

    So it is evident that if the burdens of the church are to be equalized, and those who need help are to receive it, the New Testament plan is the only one that will meet all the conditions to be provided for.

    Here will be found a stimulus for those who have been blessed with plenty, but who have a covetous disposition; here will be found a check for those who are liberal beyond their means, and funds sufficient for the needs of all.

    Besides this, the pastor should have an efficient helper, one full of wisdom, leading an exemplary life before the members for them to follow, an officer of the church full of the Holy Ghost and faith.

    It is a wise provision of the Great Head of the church for equalizing the burdens among members that the means contributed by the members go into a common fund, of which the deacons have charge.  The deacon will know whether a member is contributing according to his ability, not that it is with the deacon to say how much any member shall give, for the needs of the church are to be met by voluntary offerings, as were the necessary things for the tabernacle and its service; but he will know who are giving as the Lord as prospered them, and if they fail to do this after proper instruction, and reproof if necessary, they should be reported to the church as covetous, which is a grievous sin, and should be summarily dealt with.
 

To Labor With the Covetous.

    "Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth; fornications, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and COVETOUSNESS, which is idolatry; for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience."---Col. iii. 5, 6.

    Old Testament lessons teach us that an idolater is an abomination in the sight of God.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or COVETOUS, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."---1 Cor. v. 11.

    All the members of any church know it is wrong to tolerate a drunkard in the church.  Well, the Sacred Writ couples drunkards and covetous people together as being of one class---a class on which the "wrath of God" cometh.

    Now the deacons, knowing who are covetous and who are not, it would be their duty, more than that of any other member, to labor with such an offender in this direction, and if need be, report him to the church.

    Ananias and Sapphira were accused by the Apostle Peter.  This was before the institution of the deaconship, and the funds of the church were in the hands of the apostles.
 

Sin of Ananias and Sapphira.

    Ananias and Sapphira professed before men that they were giving in all they had to give.  So long as there was no use for their goods they were under no obligation to part with them; but their sin was in withholding through a covetous disposition.  Before the property was sold it was their own, and after it was sold the proceeds were theirs (Acts v. 4).  But they evidently felt it would be commendable to give in all they had, and yet they loved what they had better than they did the cause of Christ.  The church could make no demand as to the amount to be given, so these two lied to God and not to men.

    How many deacons have seen cases like this:  Brethren profession to give all they were able to give, and yet the deacons knew that a covetous disposition was causing them to hold back what they ought to bestow?

    We should learn from this lesson in Acts that the principle upon which the church was founded is, that the possessions of all members ought to be held by them subject to the needs of their brethren and the good of the cause.

    This fact should be recognized by the deacons who should not be slow to call upon the members for funds to meet all needs.  A brother who is one indeed, should be ready to divide his last crust, and if this spirit prevailed it would not be hard for the deacons to do their work.

    For the deacons to know there is need for distribution to the poor, or to the ministry, or to the sick, and yet have members who are well able to contribute to such purposes withhold their means, after an appeal from the deacons, is very discouraging, indeed; in fact, this is the greatest burden deacons have to bear.  Finding that members fail and refuse to do their duty, the deacons grow indifferent to their work and the office falls into disuse.
 

Dealing With Covetous Members.

    When the deacons have reported a covetous person to the church he should be dealt with the same as for any other offense. And that covetous persons should be dealt with there can be no doubt whatever, if the scriptures are to be taken as a rule.  As before remarked, if covetous persons were classed with drunkards, idolaters, etc., and dealt with accordingly, it would be better for the church and all the members.  Of course the deacon will have to take gospel steps to bring such matters before the church, and when this is done the church should not regard this sin as a peculiarity of character that cannot be reached, for it stands in the way of the prosperity of the church by withholding that which is needed perhaps in the upholding of the ministry.  Not that the pastor of a church should serve for a salary, or for the sake of money, but, many of God's ministers are poor in this world's goods, and having families, it is impossible for them to give a great portion of their time to the ministry.

    The apostles ordained deacons and put the funds of the church into their hands that the ministers might give themselves wholly to the work (Acts vi. 4).  With this thought on his mind the deacon will not feel that it is simply a personal matter between him and the brethren.  To neglect his duty, and let brethren withhold from the church what they are able to give, if it is needed to assist the pastor that he may discharge his duty, is to give assent to a weakened service, and weakened for mere greed, too, and to actually become a party to breaking down the apostolic plan for keeping up a church and sustaining the ministry in its work.

    An important duty of deacons is to see that those who are able do not withhold their means because of covetousness.
 

Should Keep An Account.

    Not only is it the business of the deacon to receive the funds contributed by the members, but that perfect confidence may be maintained, he should keep an accurate account of all he receives and all he pays out, and make his report to the church regularly.  He need not report what each member gives, but the whole amount received.  But he should give the items as paid out.  If the church desires it he may report items received.

    This is necessary, because the members must have every evidence of the integrity and honesty of the deacon.  True, they might feel this at the time of his selection, but that this feeling may be maintained it will be found necessary that the members know what he does with the funds in his hands.  If it is known that he keeps no account they will feel that he himself does not know just in what condition the funds are, whether he has church funds on hand, or whether he has paid out more than has been put into his hands.

    I knew a case in which a good brother's word was called in question.  He said he had not received enough money for a certain purpose.  Another brother, equally good, said from his knowledge he felt sure that he had, but said, "He keeps no account and forgets."

    If the deacon keeps no account of the funds he receives, nor of what use he puts them to, it soon results in a falling off of the receipts, and necessitates making a collection every time there is occasion to defray any expenses.
 

To Collect as Needed the Wrong Method.

    Some churches follow this practice:  The deacon calls on the brethren when he has need of any funds, such as to help the pastor or a visiting minister, or to pay church expenses, and collects only so much as may be needed and pays it all out a once.

    This practice is rather to be commended than for the members to ignore the deacon, but it falls short of meeting the necessities, and is not following the scriptural practice.  One of the bad features is, there will often be need of money, and the members will not be present to collect from.  The regular meeting time may be cold and stormy, or heavy rains or sickness may keep the members at home, but the faithful pastor is present.  He meets two discouraging things---the members are not present and his expenses are not paid.

    Then at the next meeting, if the members are present, they only contribute as much as though they had been present the meeting before, because there is no report whether the pastor's expenses were met or not, and he has it to bear.

    Now if the deacon kept an account of the church fund, he could report at any time before it was exhausted, and it would be the duty of the members to replenish it.  Then, whether the members were present at a meeting or not, if the pastor was present he could be helped on his way.  Or if there were need to help any poor person, or incidental church expense, the deacon would be prepared to meet it.

    Another reason for keeping an account is for the convenience of the members.  Many of our members are farmers, and do not have ready money at all times of the year, if fact, it may be the case with anyone that he is not at all times prepared to make a contribution; but there will be some time during the year when he could put in his share toward keeping up the church's expenses.  He could then hand it to the deacon and his entry of it would show that this brother had given his proportional part.  The deacon would then know not to call on him again until the other members had borne their part.


Amount Each Member Should Pay.

    Here arises a very important question:  What is each member's share? or what should each pay?  This is where most of the attempts to systematize the deacon's work break down.

    A member asks the deacon, "How much shall I contribute?"  The deacon, feeling he has no right to set the amount for members to give, says, "O, I don't know, just what you feel like giving."

    The member, feeling, perhaps, that is is not right to burden the church with surplus funds, or that the deacon will at once and for that occasion, pay out all he receives, whether it is actually needed or not, gives but little.  The deacon can say nothing, though he knows if the other members do not do better, the amount needed will not be raised.  In his heart the deacon knows what the member ought to give, and, perhaps, the member would be quite willing to give all that is needed, but because of a wrong system in attending to business, the church has not done its duty. 

    Now all this can be remedied if the deacon is allowed to, and will do his duty.  Every deacon who is qualified for the office can estimate about what the yearly expenses of his church will be.  He can tell how much the fuel will cost; he knows if there are any poor to be looked after regularly; he can estimate needed repairs about the building and grounds; he knows how much it will cost to have some one care for the house, and have it ready for services; he should know the circumstances of the pastor, and about how much such a church as his ought to contribute to him.

    He should lay this before all the members of the church, and let each one say how much of it he is willing to give.  These amounts he can enter on his book.  If it is enough to meet the demands, well and good, and each one will know about what he is to do, and he can do it when it is convenient.

    But if the amounts volunteered at the first do not cover probable expenses, the deacon can ask the members to reconsider the matter, and raise their contributions; or knowing the circumstances of all the members he will suggest to those who have not been as liberal as their circumstances warrant, that they should give more to equalize the burden.  When this matter has been arranged, the members can pay in the amounts they have agreed to give as soon as they have it, or as the deacons may need it.  The deacons should not wait until the funds are entirely exhausted before calling upon the members, nor should the members wait to be called on at all.  They should try to make the work of the deacon as light as possible, and should not put him to the trouble of calling on them individually.

    Of course the members are privileged to make as many gifts outside of this church fund as they feel disposed.
 

Distributing To the Poor.

    Out of the funds in their hands the deacons should distribute to the poor.  No poor member should be allowed to suffer for the necessities of life, nor for any needed comfort that the church is able to provide.  Never should a brother or sister, who can possibly be cared for otherwise, be sent out to the poor house to be care for by the general public.  The church need not take upon herself the burden of caring for the poor outside of her membership because the members pay taxes to care for these poor.  But her own poor and afflicted should be cared for by the church, and it is the especial duty of the deacons to look after this work.

    When one church is not able to care for its poor, other churches should help, as did the church at Corinth and the churches of Galatia (1 Cor. xvi. 1-3).

    In the United States, outside of the cities, we have not many poor who are actually unable to care for themselves who have no relatives to look after their needs, so this is not a heavy burden on the churches.  In some cases members may be lazy and imprudent, so the deacons should carefully investigate each case and report it fully to the church that their course may be approved.
 

Incidental Expenses.

    The deacons should defray the necessary expenses of the church, such as providing fuel, employing a janitor and keeping up needed repairs.  The practice of some churches making such things a special order of the church is disregarding the deaconship and results in neglect and often in dissatisfaction.  It is an old saying that what is everybody's business is nobody's business, and it often proves true.

    A pane of glass is broken in a window.  The janitor did not break it, and is not obliged to put in a new one, as he probably will not get pay for caring for the house until the end of the year, and has no money with which to buy the glass except what is his own.  He knows the deacons have no church money, and that there will have to be a collection taken, and perhaps if the glass is put in before the collection is taken, it may not be made at all.  So he waits for the church to "take the matter up" and take up a collection before this small matter can be attended to.
    Then the janitor is employed by the year, and whether he does his work well or not, no one feels disposed to speak to him about it, for the church, and not an individual employed him, and "individuals" do not want to be "too forward" in matters which concern others as well as themselves.
    Now if the deacons were held accountable for all these things, then there would not be so much neglect.  Or if there were, the church would need new deacons.
    I will suggest to deacons, if they pay the janitor every month they will get better service, and they should see to it that the house is kept in proper order to make the congregation comfortable.  The house should be kept clean, the seats free from dust, warmed in the winter before the congregation assembles, and kept warm enough, but not too warm, proper ventilation being provided.  If the person employed to look after these things does not attend to them properly, and will not be instructed to do so, get some one else.  "Be not slothful in business."---Rom. xii. 11.  Keep the house and grounds in nice order, that it may be a pleasant and an inviting place.
    Some churches appoint an annual or a semi-annual "house cleaning" when the members all come in to spend the day together, and to thoroughly clean the house, repair the fences, cut the grass, etc., and this is commendable, especially as it affords the members an opportunity of spending a day together.
 
Should Look After the Pastor's Needs.
    The deacons should minister out of the church funds to the necessities of the pastor, and they must to a great degree determine how much is done for him.  The pastor's circumstances and opportunities should be understood.  The deacons should remember that a church cannot prosper without pastoral service, and they must provide for as efficient as service as possible.
    If a church simply provides for a minister to come and preach for it two days or more in a month, and return at once to his home, if he lives at a distance, it is arranging for no pastoral service except the public ministry of the Word, which is but a part of the pastor's duty.
    Deacons were first chosen that those who ministered in the Word might give themselves wholly to that work, and the deaconship should still be used to loose the hands of the ministry that the church may have the benefit, not only of the preached word, but of pastoral service as well.  The pastor should visit the sick, the afflicted, the disobedient, the indifferent, those who fail to attend their meetings, those who have a hope but who are not members of the church, those who are in trouble on account of their sins, and the faithful members as well.  This will all take time, and the scriptures teach that he is not to do this at his own expense.  "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?  Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof?  Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"---1 Cor. ix. 7.
 

Pastor not To Bear His Own Expenses.

    No unbiased person can read this and believe but that it has reference to a preacher of the gospel.  Those who would try to make it mean anything else would certainly be wresting the scriptures.  It means very plainly that the pastor, minister or preacher, is not to go at his own charges, and then it is plainly told from whence his lack is to be made up.

    He is to eat of the fruit of the vineyard, and he is to take of the milk of the flock.  "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.  Doth God take care for oxen?  Or saith he it altogether for our sakes?  For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, it is a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"---1 Cor. ix. 9-11.

    I remember when we used oxen on the farm, and when gathering corn in the field, we let the oxen eat the corn off the stalks as they went along, and we did not have to feed them corn at the stables when engaged in this work.  This is on the same principle as the law of Moses in regard to treading out the corn, though the "corn" was a different grain in that case.

    Now Paul says this law in regard to oxen treading out corn was written with special regard to the gospel ministry.  "For our sakes, no doubt, this was written."  But that the matter may be settled he asks, "Is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things," having sown to you spiritual things?
 

Preacher to Live of the Gospel.

    Now the law that God gave to the church, according to Paul (1 Cor. ix. 14) is, "That they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."  As a parallel case with this he cites the fact that in the temple service, (which is the type of the church service) "they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple, and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar."  The priests, which evidently represent the gospel ministry, drew no land when the land of Canaan was divided, because they were to live of the things of the temple.  If the offerings of the temple were abundant, then their living was plenteous; but if the offerings fell off, then they might even be driven to seek a living at other employment.  "Even so," says Paul to the church at Corinth, "Hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."

    Some try to spiritualize this passage, and make it mean something very different from what the apostle evidently intended.  But it would be very strange, indeed, if Paul had taken no spiritual comfort from the gospel, as would be implied if we are to spiritualize this passage, for Paul says, "But I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things that it should be done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void."

  
Might Waive His Right.

    Paul did as any minister who is in the same position might do; he might not use his power in the gospel, and might support himself with his own hands.  Not that Paul did this all the time, for even when he was preaching for the church at Corinth, and not asking them to supply his needs, he says he robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do service to the church at Corinth.  When he was at Corinth the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied his wants.  See 2 Cor. xi. 8, 9.
 

Wrong to Carry the Church's Burden.

    But to this church to which he was not "burdensome" he wrote, asking them to forgive him for not having them supply his needs, and so be on an even footing with the other churches.  "For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you?  Forgive me this wrong."---2 Cor. xii. 13.

    If it was wrong then to train a church up in this way, and made it inferior to churches which supplied the minister, would it not be wrong now?  And would not a church which neglected its pastor be inferior to one that did not?

    But while Paul did not at first teach the Corinthians to minister to his support, in both letters he deals with the subject very plainly.  There seemed to be some condition peculiar to this church which caused him to deal with them thus.  While upon this subject (2 Cor. xii. 16) he says, "Being crafty, I caught you with guile."

    But he asserts that he had power to forbear working, (1 Cor. ix. 6), but he had not used that power in this case.  Any minister who is in like circumstances might follow a like course.  But if he has a wife, as Paul declared he had a right to have, and a family, and must provide for them, he may have very little time to devote to the churches; and here is where the deaconship is of so much value to the church.  A wise and zealous deacon will see to it that means are provided that the church may have pastoral service.  Of course the members of the church must be of like mind or the deacon will be powerless to do anything of himself.  But if the church does not feel it her duty to provide for pastoral service, the pastor will have to take from his own family to serve the church, or the church will have to do without this needed service.

 

How Much Pastoral Service?

    As to how much service any church shall have must depend upon circumstances.  First on its own condition, and second, upon the disposition of the churches about it.  If the church is weak in numbers, and the members poor in this world's goods, then if it cannot get a pastor who can afford to devote his time to it, can have but a limited service, unless the churches about it are strong, and willing to give a pastor such aid that he can devote more time to the weak church than it is able of itself to have.
 

The Strong to Help the Weak.

    This is a subject that should be taken under consideration by strong churches.  They should not feel that they have discharged their obligations when they have simply provided for their own service if there are weak churches about them that need help.  The apostolic practice was to gather up at one place to distribute in another (1 Cor. xvi. 1-3; 2 Cor. vii. 4; ix. 1-5; xi. 9).  Ministers should impress this principle on the churches, for it is certainly taught in the New Testament that the strong should help the weak, and this should not be ignored.

    No church should be satisfied while others are needing its help, and it is able to extend it, and this might be done very efficiently by enabling the pastor to give the weak church more time.  But the strong churches should go still further and help the weak churches to build houses of worship, for it should be considered that all belong to one family and they should help each other accordingly.
 

Pastoral Service Intended.

    It is the Lord's plan that churches should have pastoral service, and when they pursue such a course as to cut themselves off from this service it is not to be wondered at that the Lord shows His disapproval.

    Now it is through the deaconship that this service is to be extended if it is properly recognized.  If a church should say to its pastor, We want one-half your time, or all your time, if the church was conducted on a scriptural basis the pastor would have no right to refuse, as under scriptural conditions he is to give himself wholly to the work.  But the means of the members would have to be put into the deacon's hands in sufficient amount that he might supply the pastor's needs.
 

The Church Defrauds Itself.

    Now when a church keeps back that which should be given to extend pastoral work, it is not defrauding the minister, but it is cutting off its own spiritual service.  The members are gaining in the wealth of this world at the expense of the service of the Lord.  They are serving mammon rather than God.  They are not defrauding the minister, if he has not actually given them his time, for if the churches do not want his time he can work with his hands and make his living and care for those dependent upon him.  Too many members think of this matter as simply between themselves and the pastor, but it affects the pastor much less than it does the church.  The pastor may not be able to do the work he sees needs to be done, and this may pain his heart, and he may make many sacrifices, endeavoring to do it, but he can provide for himself as others do, and he should not hesitate on his own account to do so.

    No pastor who is worthy of the name can see the covetousness of the members standing as a barrier to the progress of the church without a pang at his heart, and without feeling a disposition to do all he can for the cause, even if it must be at his own charges. 
 

A Church That Asked Too Much.

    In my early ministry I attended a church several years, principally at my own expense.  Finally when the needs of a growing family forced me to say that they would have to pay the expense of my attending them, they said that I was not an Old Baptist, and I severed my connection with them.  I was young then, and had never given these things much thought, and had never delivered a discourse to this church on the duty of the church to the ministry.  I did, however, before leaving, show them the scriptural principle and practice.  They would not consider it rightly, however, and the result is that they have had but little preaching for many years, and now have no pastor.  This is not because preachers in this section are "money-hunters," but because this church has asked its pastors to bear a heavier burden than the members were willing to take upon themselves.  They asked one man to do more than they altogether would do.  Many churches have suffered on the same principle as this one to some degree, and no doubt the extinction of some churches might be traced to this unwillingness of the members to aid with their means the ministry of the Word.
 

Deaconship to Help the Ministry.

    Now the deacons and the whole church should understand that the deaconship is to be used in this direction.  Before the office of deacon was instituted the church funds were in the hands of the apostles, and no doubt they lived out of this fund as they had need, for they gave themselves constantly to the work.  But all this fund was turned over to the deacons, and it is but reason that the deacons supplied the ministry with what they needed.

    As before indicated, the deacons need to understand the circumstances of the pastor and the ability of the church, and then try to provide for such service as will not too heavily burden either.  Of course a pastor, on his part, may give as much service as he is able to give, or even more, without the church doing anything for him.  But it is not right for the church to ask him to bear any more budren(sp- my input) than the members bear, and of this the deacon should be a competent judge.  And if a deacon is to succeed he must have an opinion and be faithful to express it.

    Some one must have an idea about how much the church needs to help the pastor but it is not the business of the pastor to set a price on this time and labor.

    He who can be hired to preach can be hired to quit.  But because this is true is no reason that the pastor should bear more of the burden than other brethren.
 

Making Good the Time for Study.

    The pastor must have time to study the Word and store his mind with information needed that he may instruct and be helpful to the flock over which he has charge.  This is entirely different from writing sermons.  In writing a sermon one might simply consult works upon the subject to be treated, and soon have the work over.  But where one is to be so informed on which the scriptures teach on all subjects that he may speak extemporaneously on any given subject, there must be much more study, and the mind must be stored with knowledge to be drawn on at a moment's notice.  It is presumptuous for a pastor to try to instruct and properly serve a church without study, and study takes time.  This is one of the things that the deacon must reckon as expense, and either the pastor or the church must meet it.  The church certainly has the right to expect the pastor to study, and as it is for the benefit of the church, the church is properly chargeable with the time.
 

Church not to Wrong Pastor's Family.

    Then the deacon must take under consideration the time and necessary expense of the pastor in serving the church.  If he has a family, certainly the church cannot ask him to leave it and serve the church without restitution to the family.  If the minister has no family, to ask for his time will not be to ask for much, though certainly an appreciation of his labors ought to be shown (Phil. iv. 17).

    A church could not very consistently say to a minister, "We know that your wife needs your support, that your children need food and raiment, nevertheless, God having called you to preach, we call you to serve our church; when you are not giving us your time you can work to support your wife and children.  Though it hardly seems possible that you can do a good part by them in that time, yet you can trust the Lord to take care of them."

    This kind of treatment would hardly agree with the argument of the Apostle James---"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"---Jas. ii. 15, 16.

    Brethren with a thought of what they were doing surely could not ask a minister to leave his family and give his time to them.  They may argue that he is giving his time to the Lord.  If it be so that God requires so much at the hands of his ministers, and has required nothing at the hands of the members to correspond with it, then the burden is a most unequal one, indeed.

    But there is no scripture to support such an argument, it is all the other way.  We can know the mind of the Lord by going to His Word and learning what He says.
 

Other Expenses of the Pastor.

    Then, again, a man cannot do as well in his business, if he has one, and be gone several days out of each week.  He will lose by his non-attendance to it, and the deacons should consider this.

    His clothing will cost him more, be he ever so humble and careful.  It is a reflection on a church for a minister to be poorly clad when the condition of the church is such that it is not necessary.  He should not wear costly apparel, but it should be such as is suitable to his station.  It causes remarks which are hurtful to the cause for a minister to be dressed too expensively.  But members should think too much of the cause to let their pastor go shabbily dressed.

    These and many other reasons will be admitted by the thoughtful deacon as good ground for a liberal contribution, according to the circumstances of the members of the church.
 

All Should Bear Burden of Ministry.

    Before leaving this part of the subject I wish to call the attention of members again to a fact already stated, when a church withholds from a minister it is defrauding itself.  It is wrong to consider this matter simply as a duty from the members to the preacher as a man.  The church must be considered as a whole, and the ministry is one important work in the body, without which the church cannot prosper.  Cut it off and the church must fail.  It is God's law that His Word must be preached.  The burden of preaching He has laid upon the whole church, not just on His ministers.  His ministers are to be humiliated and used as the vessels, but it is not theirs to carry all the weight of the service.  Theirs is unspeakably the heaviest part to bear, since poor and stammering as they may be they must proclaim before all people the greatness of God and the sinfulness of man.  All their lives they may not call their time their own; they must do the bidding of others and put fleshly desires behind them.  They may not enter life as other men and compete for wealth and fame---they must preach; and there are a great number of things that a man cannot do and preach the gospel.
 

The Minister's Burden.

    With every undertaking the minister must have this in mind:  "I cannot call my time my own to dispose of as I will; I cannot have the enjoyment of my family as other men have, I must leave them to serve others; my children need my presence, but I must leave them without it; whether sick or well, weary or in buoyant spirits, with darkened mind or joyful heart, I can never get away from this continuous round of duties; week after week, month after month and year after year it will always be the same with me.

    "I cannot change off this work for something else.  When the churches are in trouble, when the members are indifferent, where my labors are scarcely valued, when all the sacrifice must be mine, my sympathies open to the suffering and sorrowing so that my heartstrings are bleeding, still I must hold on my way as though all was bright and cheerful.

    "I must never think that men can requite me, for my service is to God; I must never let the acts of men discourage me, for God requires that I shall be found faithful; if the church and the world shall take my services without thanks, still I must not abate my zeal, I must labor as seeing Him who is invisible.

    "I cannot buy off from this work, not if I owned the whole world and would give it all; God requires the service of my heart and tongue and not my possessions or the labor of my hands.  Woe is me if I preach not the gospel of the Son of God, and yet how unqualified as I am for so great an undertaking."

    This is the burden on one side.  This but poorly expresses what the minister must bear.
 

The Part of Other Members.

    How is it on the other hand?  What part will the members of the church have to bear in proclaiming the gospel of the Son of God?  They have only to minister of their carnal things to him who has been appointed of God to minister unto them spiritual things.

    How would you like to exchange, my brother, take upon you the work of the ministry, this life-long service, instead of joining in with numbers of others to take a small part of your possession, (which are the gift of God to you), to uphold this poor minister while he goes where God has sent him?

    Ah! how it would hurt you to have to leave off everything and go here and there as though you had no home!  How it might grind into your nature to see opportunity after opportunity to get on in the world slip by you because you dare not renounce your calling.  Would you give up your present life to be a minister?  Would you suffer ridicule for the church's sake, and bear tribulation for the sake of Christ?  Would you exchange?
 

Members Have the Lightest Part.

    O, no; you would not like to exchange if you knew what it meant!  You would beg to be excused.  You would plead your stammering tongue, your unworthiness and inability to perform the duties of the office well.  You would say, "Send this man."

    Well, since you do not want the work for yourself, will you object if the Lord asks at your hands a mite to hold up "this man" while he does the work that you feel is too heavy for you?  Certainly since you recognize that the work is important you will not ask that you shall bear no part of it a all!

    If you do, the Lord will not excuse you, any more than he will the man whom he calls to preach.  Preaching is a service of the church which the whole body must bear.  And well it might, since it is so important.  Think of having to go day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year without hearing the glorious gospel promises proclaimed by the Lord's own anointed!  How discouraging! the church could not live!  There could be no glad meetings where praises would go up from happy hearts to God, for when the shepherd does not call, the sheep scatter, and every one goes his own way.
 

Costs Something, but not Much.

    Would you be willing to bear something to have all this changes? and to hear the good sound of the gospel regularly? to have the sheep fed and led by the living waters where there is coolness and verdue, where they may lie down at noontide under the shade of the trees and realize the loving presence of the Good Shepherd?

    Well, it will not cost you much.  You should not want all these privileges at the expense of some one else.  David said, "Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which doth cost me nothing."  If you are willing to enjoy the preaching of the gospel at your church, and let some one else bear all the expense, you are not of the disposition of David.  But you ought to be of the disposition of the poor woman who cast the mite into the treasury, she cast in all she had.  She did not do it to be seen of men, but because she loved the service of the Lord and felt that she was willing to help support it.

    So are all the Lord's people who have a right mind about such matters.  They do not want to have other people burdened and themselves eased.  They feel that they owe all that they have to the goodness of the Lord and are glad to show in any manner they can their appreciation of His blessings.  Most of our people dearly love to hear the gospel proclaimed, but many of them have never been taught their responsibility in helping to forward the good work with their means.
 

The Cause of Present Condition.

    In fact, when the Missionaries split off from the church with the Arminian idea that money might help salvation to reach people by carrying to them the gospel, our people wanted to get as far from such an idea as possible, and backed away from the scriptural practice of helping the ministry.  Many of our ministers have felt a timidity in advocating a return to the right, for fear they would be suspected of wanting to follow the Missionaries.

    And their fears are not groundless, for there are many brethren who are blessed with plenty, but who are so covetous they cry down every attempt toward liberality in this direction, professedly for love of the truth, but really for love of money.

    But, on the other hand, there are many good brethren who know it is not wrong to do right, and who have liberal hearts and are not only willing to give what they can, but do so; but they are discouraged by irregularities and unscriptural methods.  This is the situation as many God-fearing ministers see it.  But many are perplexed and ask, "What can we do?" with doubting hearts as to whether anything can be done.
 

What Can Be Done?

    Why, let the ministry and members rise as one man and restore the walls that have been broken down, and establish again the service of the Lord according to his statutes.  We have been many years going away, and we should not be discouraged if we fail to return in one day, but we should decide to at least be going in the right direction.

    Certain it is, the deacons in the churches should return to their duties as in apostolic times and all our people should be instructed as to their duty in maintaining the office of the deaconship.

    As before remarked, it cannot be done by spasmodic efforts, it must be done by patient, determined labor.
 

Other Work for the Deacons.

    According to the qualifications given for the deacons, their duties extend further than simply to administering the financial affairs of the church.  They are considered as helpers to the ministry.  Paul, when writing to Timothy, states the qualifications of elders and deacons in the same connection as though the two offices were of great importance to the church.

    One address is to the "bishops and deacons," (Phil. i. 1), as though both were responsible for the oversight of the church regarding the things treated.
 
To Lead Good Work.

    In fact, in practice, a good, scriptural deacon fills a place in the church that the pastor can hardly make up in his absence.  The pastor's duty is principally the preaching of the gospel and directing the affairs of the church.  The deacon's work is necessary to stir up the members to an observance of the preached word, and to actively lead in carrying out the pastor's suggestions.

    The pastor's instructions often fall with no result because there is no one to lead in doing the things taught.  This work, it seems, falls to the deacons.

    A church that has no one to lead in this manner is not a live church, so far as my observation has taught me.  Often the deacons chosen by the church are not active in this direction at all, and some other member of the church takes the lead in everything.  This brother is then doing the work of the deacon and his qualifications for the office should be recognized in the church by his appointment to it.

    Other duties of the deacons will be taken up in the discussion of the next question.
 

IV.  What Are the Qualifications of Deacons?

    The fact that the qualifications of deacons are given, indicates that not every one can do the work that belongs to the office, so churches should be very careful in the selection of men for this place.  A brother may have many excellent traits, but if he does not have the particular characteristics mentioned, he will not fill the office to the advancement of the church.  He must be of the right disposition to do that which falls to his office.
 

He Must be Grave.

    One who would accomplish anything in the deaconship should maintain the dignity of his office and not be given to frivolity.  As he must be a man of experience, his demeanor should indicate that life's lessons have not been lost upon him.  So also should he feel his responsibility, and this, if properly appreciated, will keep him from being light and chaffy.

    He who is to minister in the house of God should behave himself with proper decorum or he cannot have the respect of the membership, and will bring the office to nothing, for the members will not give ear to what he has to advise, nor put their affairs into his hands.  If he appears giddy and thoughtless they will feel that he will not give things of importance sufficient thought and due consideration, and he will need to have the confidence of all the brethren in this direction.

    His manners should be such that those in need and distress will feel he is their friend, and can be trusted in all their troubles, or he cannot get close enough to render the help he ought to give.  The weak will need to lean on him for sympathy and help, and if he is not "grave" he will not invite confidence in that direction.

    He is to be he helper of the pastor and will need such a character that he can effectually reprove and correct the erring, and none but a "grave" person could do this well.
 

Caring for the Sick.

    He will need to be helpful to the sick, for it is in the distress of the sick room that he will find a field of labor.  None appreciate the help of the church more than those who, added to their want, have the weight of sickness.  And if sick persons are not in want a visit from the deacons will make the sufferers feel that the church is not neglecting them, for the deacon in his ministrations represents the church.

    It should be a grave accusation against a deacon for a sick brother or sister to say, "The deacons have never been around to see about me."  He should not only go himself, but stir up the members of the church to care for the sick.  The fraternal orders of the day profess to do more for the sick and suffering than the churches, and when it is true in the case of any church it is said to the shame of that church.

    The church should be like a family in this respect, that the welfare of every member should be carefully looked after.  If a member of a household falls sick, all the other members drop whatever else they may have in hand that the sufferer may have proper care and every comfort that loving hands can minister, and day after day, and night after night give themselves to assiduous watching until health is restored or death comes.

    So it should be in the church.  It should be the business of some one to know what is needed and lead in a work which is liable to be neglected, and that one is the deacon.  It should occur to him as soon as he learns of the illness of a member, "I am a deacon, and here is the work to which I was solemnly ordained, and God will not hold me guiltless if I neglect it."

    Then he should put by anything that would hinder him and go at once, as the hand of the church, to minister to the sick.  If need be, supplies should be furnished out of the funds in his hands.  But if only watchers are needed, he should notify members of the church that their help is needed, and they should respond at once.

    If they belonged to a fraternal society of the world they would have to go or send some one in their places; but should not the love of brethren in the church, and gratitude to God for His mercy and goodness, move one more quickly than any oath to man?

    The deacon need not go to the members of the church and simply tell them of the sickness of a brother, but as an officer of the church, using his best judgment as to whom he should call upon, should notify them that their help is needed, and those so notified should not feel at liberty to refuse, but should cheerfully render all the assistance possible.

    And where assistance is not needed, sympathy and brotherly love ought to be manifested, and the deacon should keep brethren in remembrance of their duty, for the world, the flesh and the devil are all the time working to get brethren to neglect each other and so drift apart for lack of expression of the feeling that should fill the hearts of God's people.
 

Remember the Widows and Orphans.

    As a kindred duty the deacons will remember the widows and orphans.  How heartless for the church to neglect those who are thrown on the mercy of others.  The church, when working according to the principle shown in the New Testament, is better than any man-made institution for caring for the sick and the widows in their affliction, and I trust the day may soon come when the churches will not be remiss in this important matter.

    But it will not come until we get scriptural deacons in the churches---deacons who know their duty and who are zealous enough to do it, sacrificing personal interest for the cause of Christ.
 

The Old and Infirm.

    Then there are those who are old and infirm, and who cannot attend the meetings of the church, and these should not be neglected.  A "grave" deacon may give them much encouragement and comfort, not only by visiting them himself, but by seeing that the members of the church do not neglect them.  It is sad, indeed, for aged persons who may have been faithful attendants as long as able, to be neglected when age or infirmities confine them to their homes.  I heard a sister say, "My old mother often sheds tears because the church members do not visit her."  Brother deacon, and members of the church, let me appeal to you not to neglect the aged soldiers of the cross who can no longer mingle in your assemblies.
 

The Number of Deacons Needed.

    The work to be done will decide the number of deacons which a church is to have.  One deacon might be sufficient to hold the funds of a large church, but he might not be conveniently located to look after the needs of all the members.  A church in choosing its deacons should have an eye to properly distributing them among the membership to serve all efficiently.  Usually as many as two are chosen, and as many more may be ordained as the needs of the church may determine.
 

Influencing the Lives of Members.

    Deacons who are successful in influencing the lives of the members for good must be "grave."  A church could hardly have such efficient pastoral service that the deacons would not need to watch over the lives of the members to check imprudent things before mischief results.  Does a brother go wrong in such manner that it can hardly be called a personal offense, while it is the duty of any one who know of it to try to recover the erring brother, it is imperative that the deacon shall act as soon as it comes to his knowledge.   It will not seem to the offender that the deacon is doing it for personal spite, for as an officer of the church it is his duty to take the matter up.  Often disorderly actions of members become known to nearly all the church and it does not seem to be the duty of one more than another to try to get them right, and when it is not understood to be the duty of the deacon, no one takes it up.  But if it were  understood to be his duty, not only would he have a sense of obligation in that direction, but the members would be pressing him forward, which would strengthen him to act.  It would make him feel that he, himself, was responsible for a disorderly condition of affairs and so increase the likelihood of getting rid of evils.  It would have a good effect on members if they felt, "If I go wrong the deacons will be around to see me."
 

Encouraging the "Babes" In Christ.

    There will be need that some one take the lead in encouraging those about the church who have a hope in Christ.  Perhaps the pastor might do this more effectively than others, but he cannot reach all cases and be present at every opportunity for doing good in this direction.  As taking a part of the labors of the pastor, the deacons should be alert to mark all who have the work of grace in their hearts, and give them all the encouragement in their power.  He who has the qualifications for all the work of a deacon should be able to do much work of this character.
 

Not Double-Tongued.

    It would be a disgrace to the church and a hindrance to the cause for a deacon to be otherwise than perfectly reliable in his statements.  It is a great shame for any member of the church to talk in such manner than any one will doubt his word.  But it effectually disqualifies a member for the deaconship, for the duties of this office require such intimate relations with the members as cannot exist if the deacons are "double-tongued."  He will lose his power over the members until he cannot influence them to action in any direction for good.  A man who does not adhere strictly to the truth will be shunned by good men.

    The duties of the deacon make it absolutely necessary that all the brethren shall have confidence in his sincerity and the truthfulness of his statements.  Members of the church will need to act on his judgment and statements in many cases.  When he reports a case of need, if the members have to make an investigation themselves before feeling willing to act, his work is lost, and the duties of the office should be turned over to some one else.

    The brethren will not feel like putting funds into the hands of a "double-tongued" man, for they will not feel sure that his reports are correct.  He cannot be successful in making peace among brethren, but will be more likely to cause trouble.  His record for veracity should be such that his statement will be an end of controversy.  This will lead to referring matters to him for adjustment and will enable him to bring about reconciliation between brethren, for a deacon should be a peacemaker and be constantly on the watch to keep down differences between brethren.
 

Not Given To Much Wine.

    What is true in regard to elders as being given to wine is true as applied to deacons.  (See page 51).  The deacon will have better opportunities for knowing whether members of the church are indulging too much in strong drink than the pastor, and should use his influence to prevent such habits.  But if he, himself, be given to the habit, he will be powerless to do anything.  No brother who indulges in strong drink should be retained in the deacon's office.  A church can command no respect in a community if it be known that its deacons are "given to much wine."
 

Must Not be Covetous.

    To put a miserly or covetous man into the deaconship is worse than to have no deacon at all.  A covetous person, if not put into prominence, might have but little influence on the lives of others; but if he be put into the deacon's office his influence at once begins to affect others and the purpose of the office will be defeated.  If he is inclined to get others to do their duty his actions will betray his own greedy nature and render his efforts fruitless.  In fact, the more he tries to get others to bestow their means the more will his motives be suspected and criticized.  But he will not endeavor to get others to be liberal, for it would require him to be so, too.
 
   To be "greedy of filthy lucre" is to destroy spiritual mindedness and no person who lacks this can be a deacon indeed and in truth.

    The care of the church must be upon his mind more than the accumulation of wealth.  A deacon who will stay away from his meetings, and neglect the work of his office to make money, should be reproved; and if he will not change his course should be put out of the office.  He should be an example of liberality and faithfulness, which no one can be who is grasping for the things of this world.
 

Holding the Faith in a Pure Conscience.

    Deacons are to hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Tim. iii. 9).  They are not to be half-hearted in their indorsement of the truth, but are to have an experimental knowledge of it, for in no other way can it be held in a "pure conscience."  If they have but a superficial knowledge of it, they cannot console the poor and needy with their conversation and presence, nor will they be able to encourage those who have a hope in Christ who ought to come into the church.  The fact that they are not in hearty accord with the principles upon which the church is founded will render the work distasteful to them and unsatisfactory to the church.  He must not be in doubt about the doctrines of the church nor the duties of the office, and should follow the promptings of a "pure conscience."

    He may be conscious of his own weakness, and feel that he cannot fill the office as he would like to do, yet he should not draw back nor be remiss in known duties.  He should have a consuming desire to perform the duties of the office without fault.
 

Should be Proved.

    As an elder should not be a "novice," so should those put into the office of deacon be "proved."  Old deacons should be training up young members to their places, for it is a work that requires experience.  If a brother has never been active in such service, how can the church choose him to be a deacon, not knowing whether he will develop these qualifications or not?  Too often it is but an experiment in putting a brother into the office.  If he has not the qualifications in some degree it may be that they cannot be developed, and, if not, the brother can never be acceptable as a deacon.  His business ability, his temperament, his spirituality, his devotion to the cause, and his fitness in general for the office should be "proved" before he is solemnly put in charge of it.

    Here is where so many mistakes occur.  If a church needs a deacon, and has not seen the qualifications in any brother, it would better to lay the duties on some member for a time to see if he has the necessary traits.  If need be, try several brethren until one is found who can "use" the office, for to choose one who has no ability in this direction is a grave mistake which may hinder the cause much.

    It is not enough to say that he is a good brother, for many "good" brethren are worth nothing at all as deacons.  When a church has made the mistake of choosing a good brother and not a capable one for deacon, the only consistent course is to acknowledge it by putting another brother into the office who is not only good, but who can and will perform the duties of the office.  It is wrong for a church, when it has made such a mistake, to drag along until the brother dies to get the opportunity of choosing another deacon.  Cases have been known where the church died first.  The good of the cause is at stake and it should not be ruined rather than for the church to acknowledge her wrong.

    It may not be the fault of the brother put into the office, since he did not elect himself, and perhaps protested against being put into the place.  So it should not be considered as disgracing him to give the office to another.

    But the church owes it to her interests, and the cause in general, and is in duty bound by the great head of the church, to rectify every wrong in her power, and this is one wrong that can be righted.
 

Deacons' Wives.

    Owing to the nature of the deacon's work, his wife, if he has one, can be of much service to him if she is of the right disposition; but if she is not, she can very seriously interfere with his work.  This is of so much importance that the qualification of a deacon's wife are laid down.

    Some churches insist that the deacon shall be married when chosen to the office, and that his wife shall be a member of the church and of the character prescribed, but he is not disqualified by her death.  But if he marries again, to retain his office, his wife must be a suitable one for him.  Other churches make no difference as to whether he has a wife or not.

    It seems plain to my mind that whether it is imperative that he shall be married or not, it is advisable.  If, as in giving the qualifications of elders, the requirement that he shall be the "husband of one wife" is simply declaring against polygamy, then he might be unmarried.  But as the qualifications of the wife are given, (1 Tim. iii. 11), it would seem that there is work for her, also, in connection with that of her husband.

    Some claim that the passage, giving the qualifications of deacons' wives, was meant simply for "women" who held positions corresponding to that of the deacons.  But there is no record of the establishment of such an office by the apostles, as the "seven" chosen were men.

    It is certainly advisable when possible, to find a man of proper qualifications who has a wife who is of the right character to help him.  I would not be in favor of ordaining a deacon to the work who was married, and whose wife had not the qualifications to aid him.
 

Qualifications of a Deacon's Wife.

    It is clear, upon reflection, that if a deacon's wife is to be a help to him in the ministrations of his office, she should be "grave," not a foolish woman of the world who loves amusement and society better than the service of the Lord.  If she is worldly-minded she will take no interest in assisting her husband in his labor of love for others.  She will not want to visit the sick of her own sex, and do for them what belongs to the deacon's work, but which can hardly be done as well by the deacons.

    To be a common gossip or "slanderer," would prevent all possibility of doing good.  It is a bad mark in any sister of the church to indulge in this kind of talk, and often results in serious trouble in the church.  But in a deacon's wife it interferes with his work and stands in her way of doing that which is her duty to do.

    She is to be "faithful in all things."  That is, she is to do what godly women should be found doing.  She will imitate the deeds of Dorcas (Acts ix. 39) who busied herself in doing good to others.  Her adorning will not be in dress and outward show, but will be the manifestation of the "hidden man of the heart" (1 Pet. iii. 3, 4).  She will receive the saints into her house, as did Mary and Martha, so it may be said of her that she does what she can.  She can help to care for the widows (Acts ix. 39) and orphans, and while her husband is providing for the minister she can ascertain what his wife and children have need of and how they live.

    As the deacons are to be examples to the brethren of the church in godly living, so is she to be to the sisters.

    More attention should be given to these requirements of deacons' wives, and they should be encouraged to take a more active part in church work.  They might go into many homes with good cheer and helpfulness.  And this is not alone for the sake of the work that they, themselves, would do, but the sisters of the churches should have efficient leaders in the work which they must do or which will probably remain undone.  To their faithfulness and sacrifice the church now owes a great part of its activity, and it would be greatly heightened if they were properly encouraged and led on.  They should be true "daughters of Sarah" (1 Pet. iii. 6) and with their abundance of love and sympathy render all the service possible to the Master's cause.
 

Ruling His Own House Well.

    The same reasons exist for the deacons "ruling their children and their own houses well" as in the case of the elders.  (See page 53.)  The homelife of brethren affects their efficiency as members of the church of Christ, and especially is this true of the officers of the church.  Immoral and vicious actions of the members of the deacon's family, if traceable to his training or neglect, injure, not only him in his work, but the whole church, so they cannot be too careful in this direction, as the good of the cause is at stake.
 

Results of Using the Office Well.

    "For they that have used the office of the deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."  How much in the church depends upon using this office well!  The care of its sick, the relief of its poor, the help of the ministry, and the active work of the church in every direction, are connected with this office.  Take away its efficiency and all efforts in these directions are crippled and weakened, if not entirely cut off, and the church becomes a motionless body, simply drinking in comfort from the declaration of God's grace to sinners, but manifesting no gratitude for such a wonderful gift, nor endeavoring to show love for the blessed Savior who said, "If ye love me keep my commandments."  Without the work of the deaconship (the deacon's work is often done by brethren who are not known as deacons) no pity is shown to the suffering, nor help extended to the needy; the pastor is not helped in his work, and has no efficient aid in keeping up the practical work of the church.

    But with it, how changed!  The members realize that there are duties to fulfill, and wake up to active service, knowing that we serve God when we serve His people.  The service of God is no longer in word only, but in deed as well.  A strong hand takes hold of the active labor of the church and the ministry is permitted to declare with all its freedom the glorious doctrine of grace, knowing that the church will do its duty.  This takes a burden off the ministry, and pastors of churches are content to give their work the time needed, having assurance that their wants will be supplied.

    The members of a church which has an active deacon, feeling that they have a leader who can be trusted, work together in harmony, with little division as to the way things are to be done.  But without such a leader among them they are liable each one to go after his own opinion, and there being little concert of action, but little or nothing is accomplished in practical lines.

    In a church where the deacons do not use the office well, when the members meet, and the deacons are absent, there is no inquiry about them more than there would be for other absent members, for not having been active in church matters, the members have not been accustomed to thinking of them as having any special duties, nor to depend upon them for guidance.

    But I can call to mind a few men who were deacons, indeed, and their presence gave assurance that everything would be conducted in order.  When the time came for service they said, "Come in, brethren, let us sing."  If the pastor was present he was assisted in this opening services and encouraged in his work.  If no minister was present the church was called to order just as promptly, and services held in which all the brethren, who could be induced to do so, joined.  If any of the members were absent, inquiry was made to ascertain whether anyone present knew the reason of their absence, and the following week, or as soon as possible, those who were not present received a visit from the deacon if he could not otherwise learn the cause of their absence.  Brethren who were remiss in their duty were kindly and he firmly rebuked and exhorted to greater faithfulness.

    These brethren were held in high esteem, not feared, but loved, and purchased to themselves a "good degree" in the affections of their brethren.  When the Lord called them home, and the churches no longer had the stimulus of their presence, brethren could be heard to remark, "It was not this way in Brother A's lifetime"  In one of these churches the old deacon, when age had made it impossible for him to do all the work he was accustomed to doing, took one of the younger brethren and put his work on him, instructing him how to act and what to do.  When the old deacon died the church had a man who could take up the work of the deaconship acceptably, and he was put into the office, having first been "proved."

    To use the office of the deaconship well can but raise a brother in the estimation of all.  It brings him a "good degree."  His watchfulness and activity in the cause, he having nothing but the glory of God and the peace of His church in view, endears him to pastor and church alike.

    By using his office well a deacon will grow to great "boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."  He will have to meet opposition of every kind, from outside the church and from within.  One who can meet all the opposition that a deacon must meet without getting discouraged and relaxing his efforts will have great boldness in the faith as the result of his experience.

    It is hard for a deacon to represent the church in its practical work in the face of the criticism of the world.  The world will want him to join some benevolent society, and have all the members do the same, and let the society take care of the poor.  The world will frown on him when he takes some erring brother by the arm, and calling him brother, leads him back to the path of rectitude.  The world will try to make him feel that it is too much condescension for him to try to lift the poor and needy by his labors, and to reform the erring with prayers and tears.  Then it would take such of his time, too, and will require a self-sacrificing life all the way through.

    Inside the church will be found those who are opposed to Bible practice and they will stand in the way of his caring out the work of the office.  They will want to bestow gifts in person or give nothing at all.

    Covetous persons will argue against expense and oppose assisting the poor and helping the ministry.  The members will be slack in their duty in various directions, and sometimes inclined to make trouble instead of laboring for peace.

    All these things will try his patience and his faith in God, but if he perseveres, leaning on the Almighty, he will grow into a humble boldness that will bear all things and endure without flinching the severest opposition.

    I implore the deacons of the churches to think of these things.  Do you love the Zion of our God?  Do you love the peace and prosperity of our churches?  Do you not feel that your life should be consecrated to the service of God?

    If these things appeal to you, take God's word and, studying it carefully, resolve that by the Spirit's help you will follow what it teaches.  I do not expect that doing your duty will be to you like "flowery beds of ease," but a conscience blessed with the approval of God will more than recompense you for the sacrifices you must make.
  
    If you have not been in the habit of doing your duty, when you think of what you know you ought to do, it may be that you will be conscious of much indecision in regard to your future course.  You know what ought to be done, but you do not feel equal to the task of bringing it about.  And perhaps you cannot, by yourself, for if the duties of your office are attended to, there must be a right understanding by the pastor and the members.
   
    But you can pray to God for strength and faith, and, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord," you can "persuade men" (2 Cor. v. 11).

    Talk to the pastor first and encourage him to preach and talk on practical things, and especially to call attention to the work of the deacons.

    Then talk to the members, being careful to refer to what God's word says.  Do not think when you have done this once that you have done your full duty---spend your life in this direction.  If you do not see the fruits yourself, others will, and the cause will have been served.

    Let us all labor together for the upbuilding of the precious cause among God's humble poor, for it is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psa. lxxxiv. 10).

     By the help of God, and following His commandments, the condition of our churches can be bettered.  There may be a cry that these are new things, but it will not be the truth, they are the old things taught in the times of the apostles.  Departures from them are the new things.  "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls."---Jer. vi. 16.

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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.