Preaching Christ

by Edward Reynolds

Expounded in a SERMON Delivered at St. Peters Church in the City of Norwich at an Ordination, September, 22. 1661.


Augustine. Epist. 203. I do not consider my role in Ecclesiastical Honours as merely serving through tumultuous times, but I believe I am accountable to the Shepherd of all for the Flock entrusted to me.

LONDON, Printed by Tho. Ratcliffe, for George Thomason at the sign of the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Churchyard. 1662.


To the Reverend, my dearly beloved Brothers, the Dean, Prebendaries, and the rest of the Clergy of the Cathedral Church and City of NORWICH.

Reverend and beloved Brothers, since delivering this straightforward Sermon, I've faced persistent appeals (if I may borrow the expression from the Orator) to make it public. Ultimately, I have succumbed to my friends' persuasions. My primary goal in doing so is to inspire my younger peers to make it the central aim of their Ministry to portray the Lord Jesus – His divine Person, His sacred Offices, His heavenly Doctrine, His blessed Example, His spiritual Graces, the fellowship of His sufferings, the power of His resurrection, the excellence of His knowledge, the unmeasurable wealth of His love, and all the mysteries of His Kingdom – as appealing to the eyes of their listeners. As prophesied, He would be the desire of all Nations, the greatest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. In preaching the Law, they may guide people towards Christ for mercy, to pardon Transgressions, and for Grace, to obey its commands. In preaching the Gospel, they may direct individuals towards Christ for Faith, to trust in the promises of the Covenant, for He is the Author of our Faith: for Hope, to await their fulfilment, for He is to us the Hope of Glory; and for Love, to kindle that purity and holiness they are meant to ignite within us, for the Love of Christ compels us. They may be deterred from all those ways of passion, ostentation, and vanity that sometimes lead men to preach about themselves rather than Christ, their own notions rather than His counsel, by the awe and dread of the Name of Christ, in whose stead they speak, and to whom, as the chief Shepherd of the sheep, they must account, thereby causing the people to abhor the Lord's offering. I've chosen to dedicate this to you as a token of the Love and Honour I owe you, the esteem I hold for your learned and pious Endeavours, and the genuine gratitude I express to you, for the immense Love you've shown me and the support you've given me in my service to that Diocese. I hope it won't be troublesome to you, or offensive to anyone, if following the model of the ancient Bishops in the more primitive and purer eras of the Church, who customarily sat with their Clergy and led an Ecclesiastical Senate, I seek your advice and assistance on serious and challenging matters, aiming for more secure, judicious, regular, and inoffensive resolutions. I commend you to God's Grace and remain,

Your most loving Brother and fellow Labourer in the service of Christ and His Church, Ed. Norwich.




"For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." - 2 Cor. 4. 5.

A significant portion of this Epistle is apologetical, in which the Apostle strives to defend and uphold his apostolic position and dignity against the biases that might have been created either by the sufferings he endured during its execution or by the insinuations of false apostles and deceitful workers. He compares himself with these individuals and asserts his superiority over them in numerous ways, particularly in terms of fidelity and sincerity in the ministry's work. Having previously discussed this in chap. 1. 12. and 2. 17. 3. 6, he then expounds on the excellence and glory of the Evangelical Ministry in chap. 3. 7—18. He goes on to illustrate his uncorrupt and sincere execution of it in this current chapter, and in several subsequent sections of this Epistle: asserting his diligence as in the fulfilment of a service to which he was particularly mercifully called, ver. 1; his effort in godly simplicity to manifest its truth to the consciences of people in the sight of God, verse 2. It was not his own evasiveness but people's blindness and satanic deception that concealed the Gospel from those who didn't accept it, v. 3, 4. He further evidences his fidelity by the substance and theme of the doctrine he taught, which was to exalt not himself, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and by the extraordinary divine power accompanying his Ministry to grant people the light of the knowledge of God's glory in the face of Christ, Ver. 5, 6, 7.

The passage presents a duty, 'we preach', and the subject or focus of that duty, articulated, 1. Negatively, as 'not ourselves'. 2. Positively, as 'Christ as the Lord of the Church', in which the Apostle was simply a servant for their benefit, and for his Master's glory. We'll discuss these points with succinct clarity.

Firstly, the Duty, 'we preach', hints at those who were known to loudly proclaim and publicise the edicts of authorities. This is reminiscent of the Prophet's command to raise his voice like a trumpet in Isa. 58. 1, alluding to the trumpets the priests were instructed to blow when calling for solemn assemblies, as in Numb. 10. 1.

I won't delve into the dignity and grandeur of this role, which was not only carried out by holy prophets and apostles (Isa. 6. 8. Mat. 3. 1. Mat. 10. 7.), but by Blessed Angels (Luke 2. 10), and even He who is the Lord of both men and angels. He was formally anointed to this function, to preach the Gospel to the poor and deliverance to the Captives, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4. 18, 19, 43, 44). Despite being the Lord of life and glory, to whom every knee must bow (Phil. 2. 10), whom all the Angels are commanded to worship (Heb. 1. 6), He did not scorn to be a Minister (Rom. 15. 8) and to go about preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mat. 4. 23).

So, no matter how lowly or unworthy this role may be regarded by people who do not value their own souls, we should follow the Apostle's example to magnify our office (Rom. 11. 13). We should consider it an exceptional gift of divine grace bestowed upon us that we should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3. 7, 8). We should accordingly dignify our Ministry with such lives and learning as befits it, and not disgrace so sacred and divine an office with debased, earthly, sensual, or brutal behaviour.

I won't speak of its difficulty either, which led the Prophet to exclaim, 'I am a child' (Jer. 1. 6), and the Apostle to ask, 'who is sufficient for these things?' (2 Cor. 2. 16). They teach us to persevere in our studies and prayers, and to rely on God for the provision of his Spirit and grace, who alone makes able Ministers of the New Testament (2 Cor. 3. 6).

However, I will briefly touch on the necessity of this momentous task to stir and urge those called to it, to fulfil it with more reverence and trepidation, with more faithfulness and dedication.

Something can be deemed necessary in two ways: necessitate praecepti, because it is commanded, or necessitate medii, because it is instituted as a unique means to achieve a great and significant goal. The preaching of the Gospel is necessary in both these respects.

  1. It's necessary necessitate praecepti, as explicitly instructed by Christ, who is the King and Lawgiver in his Church. Just as His Father sent Him, and entrusted Him with a mission and a mandate to discharge the service, which He willingly and obediently undertook even to death, to ensure the Lord's will was fulfilled through Him. Likewise, He sent His disciples (John 20. 21) with a strict mandate and instruction (as all power in heaven and earth was given to Him) to preach the Gospel (Mat. 28. 18, 19, 20). To ensure this service continues indefinitely, He appointed not only temporary officers like Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists, but also Pastors and Teachers to continue this mission until the end of the world for the perfection of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4. 8—13). The Apostles took special care to entrust this service to faithful men, who could teach others, and appointed Elders to be ordained in every City to carry on this necessary work (Acts 14. 23. 2 Tim. 2. 2. Tit. 1. 5). Both our Saviour and the Apostles emphasise the importance of this duty to their disciples (Matth. 28. 18, 19. John 21. 15—17; Act. 20. 28; 2 Tim. 4. 1; 1 Pet. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4), urging them to diligence and faithfulness.

  2. It's necessary necessitate medii, for the crucial objectives of conversion and salvation. Without vision, people perish (Prov. 29. 18). When they were without a teaching Priest, they were without the true God (2 Chron. 15. 3). There can be no salvation without calling upon God, no calling without faith, no faith without hearing, and no hearing without a preacher. This is the Apostle's sequence (Rom. 10. 13—15). Although not a natural medium that consistently produces the intended effect (as many more are called than chosen), it is an instituted medium, appointed by God to be the Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5. 18) and the word of Grace (Acts 20. 32), through which people are ordinarily called to salvation, repentance, and remission of sin, being preached in the name of Christ (Luke 24. 47). The Lord cooperates with it according to His power, distributing to each as He wills (1 Cor. 3. 5—7. 12. 11).

In summary, it is necessary:

  1. In respect of Christ, whose authority institutes it and whose glory is greatly involved in it. It is His effective tool to demolish the kingdom of Satan and bring every thought into obedience to Him (2 Cor. 10. 5).

  2. In respect of the Church of Christ, the collection, edification, perfection, and salvation of which greatly rely on it, as it is the mighty power of God for that purpose (Rom. 1. 16. 1 Cor. 1. 21). By it, people are gathered and turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God (John 11. 52. Acts 26. 18). By it, they are built up to attain their inheritance (Act. 20. 32), they are led in the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God to become a perfect man (Eph. 4. 13), and by it, they save themselves and those that hear them (1 Tim 4. 16. Acts 11. 14).

  3. In respect of ourselves, it is necessary: 1. Ad impletionem muneris, for of all stewards, the stewards of the Mysteries of God must be found faithful (1 Cor. 4. 2). 2. Ad Acquisitionem Mercedis, for those who lead many to righteousness will shine as stars forever and ever (Dan 12. 3). 3. Ad evitationem periculi, for woe unto us if we do not preach the Gospel (1. Cor. 9. 16). In each of these ways, a necessity is imposed upon us.

Therefore, great care, fidelity, and wisdom must be exercised in such a significant task. This is no minor duty, where strongholds must be torn down, and anything that elevates itself against the Kingdom of God must be demolished. It's about dislodging sin and Satan, bringing the whole of humanity under Christ's obedience, changing people's inherent tendencies. It's about effectively convincing them to despise what they once loved, and love what they once despised. To deny themselves, their reasoning, their desires, their interests, their lands, their relationships, their lives, everything - because this is sometimes what they must do, always with a prepared mind, to please an unseen God and gain an unseen inheritance. This is not the work of an uneducated Reader, but of someone who has the tongue of the learned, a worker who need not be ashamed. This is not the job of a carefree idler who shears the sheep while allowing the flock to starve, but of someone who completely dedicates himself to it. Thus did the Renowned Bishops in the early days. We read everywhere in Saint Chrysostom about his daily preaching, and of Saint Ambrose preaching every Sunday, as Saint Augustine tells us, Confess. 6. c. 3. Prayer and preaching are two excellent and worthy parts of the Ministry of Reconciliation, appointed to aid and enhance each other. Therefore, those who discredit or disregard one for the other, as if performing one were enough to fulfill the Ministerial Function and means of the people's edification and salvation without the other, do a great disservice. Undoubtedly, our Saviour's Commission extends to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20. As long as there are strongholds to be demolished, sin to be reproved, a Church to be built, Saints to be perfected, enemies to be resisted, there will be a need for every Ordinance of Christ, through which these great works can be accomplished.

To ensure the more certain accomplishment of these tasks, this weighty duty of preaching must be carried out with such spiritual skill that we may present ourselves to God as workers who need not be ashamed, correctly handling the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15. That is to say, first, with Evidence and demonstration, so as to affect the conscience, and make powerful and awakening discoveries and impressions upon the practical judgment, which cannot be evaded or contradicted by any sophisms or subterfuges. The Apostle calls this convincing preaching; "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but with demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1 Corinthians 2:1, 4). This means in a spiritual, powerful, and invincible demonstration, which admits no possibility of being contradicted or disproved. In another instance, speaking of an unbeliever who hears the Gospel preached, he says, the unbeliever is so convinced that he is judged; the secrets of his heart are so discovered that he falls on his face, worships God, and acknowledges God to be in such preaching (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25). So, the Prophet is said to judge men when he makes them know the abominations of their fathers (Ezekiel 20:4). Again, the Apostle says, "we have not walked craftily, nor handled the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2). And thus it is said of Stephen, that his adversaries were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke (Acts 6:10).

  1. We must proceed with wisdom and a sense of timing, addressing people in ways they can understand and endure, as Christ did (Mark 4:33; John 16:12). We should provide 'milk' for the weak and 'meat' for the strong, managing our ministry in a way that prevents and eliminates any cause for bias or offence from those looking to criticise us.

  2. We need to act with sincerity and integrity, not avoiding any crucial doctrine, nor covering up with shoddy solutions, nor distorting the Word of Truth. Rather, we should deliver God's entire counsel, seeking to please people for their improvement and edification, and for all other purposes, pleasing not people but God who tests the heart (1 Corinthians 10:33; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). We must communicate His words whether people listen or ignore (Ezekiel 2:7) and share the truth, even if we are considered enemies for doing so (Galatians 4:16).

  3. We should communicate with spiritual power and authority, like Christ did (Matthew 7:29), confronting people with their transgressions and condemning them for it (Micah 3:8; Ezekiel 20:4) in such a way that their hearts feel the sting (Acts 2:37), leading them to humbly acknowledge God's glory (1 Corinthians 14:25). We should reveal to individuals their righteousness so that they may find God's grace and rejoice in His presence (Job 33:23-26). We need to preach the word in a way that binds and loosens, forgives and holds onto, heals and establishes the consciences of our listeners, so that they may perceive the Gospel, not only in word, but also in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

  4. We must communicate with meekness and all persuading gentleness, showing nothing but love and kindness in everything we deliver. As the Apostle stated to the Thessalonians, he was gentle among them, as a nurse cherishes her children (1 Thessalonians 2:7), and he urged Timothy and other spiritual persons to instruct those who oppose with meekness and restore those who have stumbled into error (2 Timothy 2:24-25; Galatians 6:1). Saint Augustine aptly describes a preacher, that he should conduct his office so as to instruct, delight, and persuade, securing a willing and cheerful obedience to the doctrine taught through a compelling sense of love.

  5. We must proceed with courage and audacity, not fearing the defiance of any daring sinners who dare to contravene the Law, nor fearing God's face. If someone dares to do what God forbids, should a minister be too fearful to voice what God orders? Should I fear causing offence by doing my duty to someone who doesn't fear offending God by neglecting his? Should I fear to save him who isn't afraid to ruin himself? Or should I dread a man's look and ignore God's wrath, who can rip me apart? "Don't be scared of their faces," says the Lord, "or I'll disgrace you before them" (Jeremiah 1:17). However, this audacity must come with conviction and persuasion, without imprudence or aggravation, showing our fervour against people's sins, but also demonstrating our affection for their persons, and the honour and reverence we owe to their statuses and conditions.

Finally, our lives and examples must educate people, as well as our doctrine. We must be like the star that not only enlightened the wise men but also led them to Christ (Matthew 2:9). Someone who contradicts in their life what they advocate in their holy teaching is making themselves a wrongdoer (Galatians 2:18). To preach angelic sermons but live in a devilish manner is more of a spectacle than true piety, as Tertullian puts it. We can't expect others to follow our teaching if we ourselves abandon it, as most people are like sheep, following not where they are guided but where they are led. And that concludes the supposed duty here, the excellence, necessity, and manner of preaching.

We move on to the subject or content of preaching, expressed, 1. Negatively, not ourselves. Individuals might be said to preach themselves in four distinct ways.

  1. When they assume authority over their flock, exercising dominion over the consciences of their listeners, as if a ministry were akin to a monarchy, or as if the sheep were theirs to command and manipulate as they see fit. This description echoes the Apostle's portrayal of the man of sin, who presumes divine authority over the souls of people, seated as God in God's temple, 2 Thes. 2:4. They also exert tyrannical control over their bodies. Consequently, both our Saviour and his apostles have laid down strict and severe guidelines to counter such dangerous ambition. "Do not be called leaders, for One is your Leader, that is, Christ," Matthew 23:8-12. "Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy," 2 Cor. 1:24. "Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock," 1 Peter 5:3.

  2. When they position themselves as the originators of their own ministry, embarking on such a significant role of their own volition, and rushing in before they are summoned, as many did in the Prophet Jeremiah's era, Jer. 23:21. More recently, amongst us during the era of unprecedented liberty, were individuals whom we might consider self-appointed preachers, embarking on a path to discredit and topple rightful preachers. They fostered disregard for the earnest principles they knew stable and established divines would never abandon and which they were determined to oppose.

  3. When they turn themselves into the subject of their preaching, prophesying lies and the delusions of their own hearts, Jer. 23:16, 26. Teaching human doctrines or commandments as divine truths, Mat. 15:9. By their lies, they sadden the righteous and strengthen the wicked, following their own spirits, Ezek. 13:3, 22. They ventilate their own emotions, hostilities, self-interests, and suspicions, their own unique beliefs and paradoxes, stirring up unrest, engendering dissatisfaction and division in the hearts of the people, corrupting minds, distorting judgements, and entrapping the consciences of their listeners. Such actions result in falsehoods that lead the people astray through their lies and frivolity. In order to keep yourselves from such grave and damning sin, frequently reflect on that dreadful warning in Deut. 18:20: "But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die."

  4. When they make themselves the aim of their preaching, subordinating such a sacred duty to their vanity, ambitious pursuits, corrupt gain, agreeable compliances, or personal advantages. This is akin to the Pharisees, who, under the pretence of lengthy prayers, devoured the houses of widows, viewing gain as a mark of piety, as the Apostle remarks in 1 Tim. 6:5. When they follow crooked and indirect aims of their own, ostentatious displays of learning, persuasive words of human wisdom, self-praise, pleasing others, 1 Cor. 2:4, 2 Cor. 10:12, Gal. 1:10. This behaviour is in stark contrast to the holy Apostle, who did not manipulate the word of God for his own ends, 2 Cor. 4:2, did not exhort from impure motives or through deceit, refrained from flattering words or greedy motives, sought neither human praise nor glory, 1 Thes. 2:3-6. He made it his sole goal to please God, saving souls by any means necessary, prioritising his Master's interests over his own so that Christ alone might be glorified in the hearts of people. For as much as we assign to ourselves, we take away from Christ, whom the Apostle designates as the sole content of his preaching.

This leads us to the positive aspect of our preaching, Christ Jesus the Lord, which suggests that the Lord Jesus is the originator, the subject, and the goal of all our preaching.

  1. The Lord Jesus is the founder and initiator of this duty in his Church. The audacity of individuals who impose themselves into a Ministry without a divine call and authorization is a grave presumption, as the unfortunate examples of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Uzziah, the roving exorcists, Acts 19:13-16, among others, fully attest. Hence, just as Aaron was formally set apart to serve the Lord, 1 Chron. 23:13, and Christ was designated by God as a high priest according to the Order of Melchizedek, Heb. 5:5-7,10, his apostles were likewise dispatched by him, Matt. 28:19. By his authority, they ordained others to the same service, Acts 14:23, and directed that the same procedure be followed in the future, 2 Tim. 2:2, Titus 1:5. We must therefore receive both our mission and our message, indeed our entire Ministry, from him or those he has designated, as was said of Archippus, Col. 4:17. It must be granted and entrusted to us before we dare to claim the titles of ambassadors for Christ, 2 Cor. 5:18-20, John 3:27.

  2. Our mission must come from him, for as the Apostle states, "how can they preach unless they are sent?" Rom. 10:14. Honour should not be claimed without a call, "No one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God," Heb. 5:4. The ministerial role is an honour, as the Apostle points out, 1 Tim. 5:17. Responsibility should not be claimed without a call, the Ministry is a duty and stewardship, 1 Cor. 9:17. The disorder, confusion, harm, and risk would be immense if heretics and deceivers were free to disseminate their fallacies and undermine the souls of people; if the ignorant and self-important could amass followers; if the fickle and unstable could chase after novelties, and be swayed by various and unusual doctrines; if such a dignified role were to be exposed to scorn, and bereft of divine blessing and assistance due to the intrusion of unqualified and worthless individuals.

Thus, a call is essential. And this call, although given indirectly and through the Ministry of people, originates from Christ. Pastors and teachers, who are called indirectly, are appointed by him just as apostles and prophets are, Eph. 4:11. The elders of Ephesus, even though they were chosen through an ordinary call, are described as being made overseers by the Holy Ghost, Acts 20:28.

This Call is of two kinds, internal and external.

  1. Internal, consisting of:

    1. Demonstrable qualifications for such a significant task, namely:
      1. A holy life that prepares and predisposes one for the faithful and conscientious fulfilment of the Office, fostering zeal for God's glory, sensitivity to the welfare of souls, being a role model to the flock, and ability to speak from personal experience about God's ways, Satan's strategies, the deception of lust, the outcomes of temptation, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and other profound mysteries of salvation.
      2. Sound Doctrine, along with substantial learning and intellectual capability, so that one is apt to teach, to share timely wisdom, to reveal a person's integrity, to counter the argumentative, to utilise unassailable speech. A moderate level of learning will not suffice to unlock the Scriptures, refute errors, frame questions, settle disputes, resolve cases, and speak with certainty and authority to sinners' consciences. The Lord has scattered elements of nearly all types of learning, beyond just the divine, throughout the Scriptures. Medicine is present in the accounts of animals, birds, plants, meteors, precious stones, etc. Ethics and politics are found in Solomon's Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Logic and rhetoric in the compelling arguments, and persuasive eloquence of Prophets and Apostles. Mathematics and architecture in the designs of Noah's Ark, and Solomon's and Ezekiel's Temples. Languages, with the Old Testament penned in Hebrew and Chaldee, and the New Testament in Greek. References to foreign and secular history and antiquity, mythology, parables, poetry, quotations from secular authors. All of this illustrates the vast amount of learning required to properly understand and interpret the word of Truth.
      3. A teaching aptitude, spiritual skill and wisdom to reveal oneself as a Scribe educated in the Kingdom of heaven, Matt. 13:52, with an "aptitude for teaching", as the Apostle's expressions go, 1 Tim. 3:2, 2 Tim. 2:2.
    2. This internal call is characterised by a genuine desire, driven by God's covert work on the heart, to serve Him and His Church in the Ministry, not out of ambition, greed, or worldly affections, but out of complete respect for God's glory and the salvation of souls. The Apostle refers to it as a "desire" (1 Tim. 3:1), a "willingness" (1 Cor. 9:17), a "dedication" (1 Cor. 16:15), and an "offering of oneself" to be sent by God (Isa. 6:8).
  2. The external call, established by Christ in His Apostles, is administered by their successors, the Bishops and Pastors of the Church. This involves:
    1. An evaluation of the suitability of those who perceive themselves to be inwardly called, based on the preceding qualifications, to prevent the office from being infiltrated by unlearned or unworthy individuals, 1 Tim. 3:10.
    2. An endorsement, when, upon examination, individuals are found to be competent, willing, able, and faithful, the Church, through its Officers, declares them as such and attests to them, as the Apostle does to Epaphras and Tychicus, Col. 1:7, 4:7.
  3. Separation and formal consecration to the function by fasting and prayer, entrusting the approved individuals to God's grace, Acts 13:2, 14:23. This is done in the Church assembly, in the presence of the congregation, whose agreement and testimony were historically sought, as we find in St. Cyprian, Ep. 68, Council of Carthage, 4, can. 2, and in Leo, Ep. 89. By this, the Church are witnesses and (unless they voice their disagreement or dissatisfaction) endorsers of what is being done. And it was performed with the Rite and Ceremony of the Laying on of hands, 1 Tim. 5:22, which implies: 1. A dedication and commitment of the individual to the Office, Num. 27:18, 2. A passing down of authority to administer the Office, 3. A plea for the gifts, blessing, protection, and guidance of the Holy Spirit upon them, and an entrustment of them to God's Grace, Acts 14:26. Thus, Ministers of the Gospel receive their mission from Christ and according to His instruction.
  1. From Him, they must receive their Message. He is the King in the Church, and they are His Ambassadors, who should only take their instructions from Him, 2 Cor. 5:20. They must speak His words, Ezek. 2:7, so that the Church can have evidence of Christ speaking through them, 2 Cor. 13:3, and of the counsel of God delivered by them, Acts 20:27. They teach the people the things He has commanded, Matt. 28:20. His command is our commission. We should deliver nothing but what we have received. "I have received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you", 1 Cor. 11:23. "That which I have heard", says the Prophet, "from the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, I have declared to you", Isa. 21:10. "Speak to all the cities of Judah which come to worship in the Lord's house all the words which I command you to speak unto them, diminish not a word", Jer. 26:2. "Whatsoever I command you observe to do it, you shall not add to it, nor diminish from it", Deut. 12:32. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God", 1 Pet. 4:11.

The Lord has entrusted us with the Word and Ministry of Reconciliation, what we do in service of that Ministry we do in Christ's stead, and therefore we must seriously consider whether the words we speak to the people, be they true, profound, and holy, are such that, without dishonouring Christ, can have His name and authority attributed to them. He will not acknowledge the dictates and inventions of men as the Oracles of God.

Although it's part of the Church's duty, authority, and wisdom to guide the mere circumstantial aspects of God's service, in a way that most contributes to the order and decency that God demands, and best suits the seriousness, simplicity, and sanctity of such divine and spiritual worship: the Church may not impose her commandments as doctrines, Matt. 15:9. She may not add anything to the complete and sufficient holy Scriptures, Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:6. When we speak of the means of salvation, the rules, principles, and grounds of faith and worship, of the suitable subject of Evangelical preaching, we must adhere to the law and testimonies, if we do not speak in accordance with them, it's because there is no light in us, Isa. 8:20. No doctrine is necessary or sufficient to take us to Heaven, except that which first descended from Heaven. In this way, we preach Christ Jesus the Lord, as the Author of both our Mission and our Message.

II. We preach Christ Jesus the Lord as the crux and essence of our preaching; there isn't any matter of preaching that doesn't encompass Christ, either explicitly or implicitly. We preach Christ crucified, 1 Cor. 1:23. "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified," 1 Cor. 2:2.

All facets of religion fall under four categories: duties to be performed, mysteries to be believed, mercies to be sought, and seals to be bestowed, referred to as Agenda, Credenda, Petenda, and Participanda.

  1. For the Agenda, the law is the guide, and it is a teacher leading us to Christ, Gal. 3:24. View it as a covenant of life, and it directs us to Christ, by whose sole obedience the righteousness of the law has been fulfilled for us, "I have not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it," Matt. 5:17. By whose unique sufferings and atonement the curse of the law has been lifted from us, Gal 3:13. Christ is the culmination of the Law, Rom. 10:4.

Consider it as a guide to living, and it likewise directs us to Christ. 1. His spiritual teaching discloses the depth and breadth of it, for his commandment is incredibly wide, this was a key aim of his Sermon on the Mount, to vindicate the law from the restrictive interpretations cast upon it. 2. His holiest example leads us along the path of it, so we might walk as he walked, 1 Pet. 2:21, 1 John 2:6. 3. His Holy Spirit and Grace, and his love spread in our hearts, empower and compel us to obey it, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Phil. 4:13. We must never preach the law without Christ. As it was delivered, so it must be preached, in the hand of a Mediator, Gal. 3:19. When we reveal the ailment we must also show the Doctor. Thus, all duties lead to Christ.

  1. All matters to be believed, the Credenda, found in the Gospel are encompassed in Christ.

  2. Every doctrine of the Gospel, as is clear in every article of the Creed. I believe in the Father as the Father of Christ; by whom He created the world, Col. 1:16, and in whom He is our Father, John 20:17. I believe in the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ, Rom. 8:9, Gal. 4:6, the Vicar of Christ, who brings Him and His comforts to the soul. I believe in the holy catholic Church, the Spouse of Christ, the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him that fills everything in every way, Eph. 1:23. Christ is the head and body. I believe in the communion of saints, and our communion is with the Father and the Son as the King of Saints, 1 John 1:3, and with holy angels and men, as subjects to that King. The Remission of sins, and this is from Him, "And repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name," Luke 24:47. The resurrection of the body, and this also is from Him; "The Son gives life to whom He will," John 5:21, 25, John 11:25. The life everlasting, and this is from Him. "Christ in us, the hope of glory," Col. 1:27.

  3. All the Promises of the Gospel have their foundation and certainty in Christ; they are in Him yes, and Amen, 2 Cor. 1:20. He is the purchaser of them by His atonement: He is the procurer of them by His Intercession: He is the fulfiller of them by His Princely Administration.

  4. All the Warnings of the Gospel lead us to consider Christ as the Sanctuary and Refuge, through whom they can be avoided by believers, and as the Prince and Judge by whom they are inflicted upon unbelievers, Acts 10:42, 43, 13:39.

  5. The entire Covenant of Grace leads us to Him. For as the Covenant of Works was made with the first Adam on behalf of his descendants, so the Covenant of Grace is made with the second Adam on behalf of His descendants. He, being both God and man, is equally concerned in the interests of both; accordingly, He preserves God's interest by His satisfaction and righteousness, and man's interest by reconciliation and blessedness. He is the Guarantor of the Covenant for God's satisfaction, Heb. 7:22, and He is the Mediator of the Covenant for man's reconciliation, Heb. 8:6. Thus, all matters to be believed lead to Him.

  6. All things to be prayed for, the Petenda, inevitably bring us to Christ. His Father is the one who answers our prayers. "I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Eph. 3:14. His Spirit is the originator of our prayers. "The Spirit of the Son in our hearts cries Abba, Father," Gal. 4:6. His Name is the plea of our prayers. "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you," John 16:23, 24. His Intercession gives our prayers efficacy; this is the incense offered with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar, Rev. 8:3.

  7. All things to be bestowed, the Participanda, lead to Him. Baptism is the representation of Christ's death and resurrection, wherein we are incorporated and regenerated to His life and likeness. The Lord's Supper is a memorial of Christ's death, wherein we partake of and celebrate Him as our Passover which was sacrificed for us, 1 Cor. 5:7, 8.

To summarise, we preach Him, 1. In His office, as the Christ, anointed by His Father. 2. In the key objectives of these offices, which are to be our Jesus to save us, and our Lord to rule us; to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance and forgiveness of sins, Acts 5:31.

III. We preach Christ Jesus the Lord as the main goal of all our preaching, to ensure we progress His interests, and advocate His designs, so that He may witness the outcomes of His hard work and be satisfied. His people may be gathered, His body fortified, His saints perfected, His enemies overcome, His Gospel propagated, His name glorified, and finally, He is to be admired by all who believe, 2 Thes. 1:10. These are, in essence, the ends of the work, Eph. 4:12, and they ought to be our intentional aims.

Having upheld Christ's honour and interest, the Apostle turns back to himself, illustrating his role within the Church of Christ, not as a Lord, but as a servant. "We ourselves are your servants", far removed from the temper of those you tolerate to bring you into bondage, to strike, to consume you, to exalt themselves, 2 Cor. 11:20. Regardless of the titles of honour or dignity bestowed on the pastors of the Church, (as the Apostle assures us of an honour due unto it, 1 Tim. 5:17, and an authority entrusted with it, 2 Cor. 10:8), this very honour consists in a service they owe to the Church of Christ. Christ only has dominion and superiority, everyone else, even Apostles themselves, offer nothing but service and ministry. Just as the Priests and Levites are commanded by Josiah, to serve the Lord and His people Israel, 2 Chron. 35:3. The most senior officers and those with the greatest abilities all belong to the Church, for its edification, 1 Cor. 3:22. The names given to pastors in Scripture, such as Stewards, Ministers, Watchmen, Labourers, all suggest a service, excluding domination, which our Saviour explicitly forbids, Mat. 20:25-28. They include humility, diligence, fidelity, love, helpfulness, and all efforts to support the service of the Churches' faith, as the Apostle refers to it, Phil. 2:17.

Yet they are such servants and stewards who are also rulers, as they are called, Luke 12:42, 1 Tim. 5:17. They serve the people's needs, not their power, and the people do not have despotic authority over them, but are to submit to them as to those who watch for their souls, 1 Cor. 16:15, 16. Heb. 3:17.

Therefore, the Apostle adds, that they are the people's servants for Jesus' sake, to enhance His honour and interest in the Church. The Church is His spouse, His flock, His body, bought with His own blood. We are His officers and must answer to Him about you. Our love, our loyalty, our fidelity, our fear of Him compel us to invest and to be invested in the service of your souls. He is our Jesus and your Jesus; as we anticipate our own salvation from Him, or value and desire yours, we must serve your faith and show ourselves as His servants by being yours.

To conclude, I would like to extend a word of encouragement to my esteemed colleagues in this sacred function, and to those who aspire to join us,

  1. Preach the Gospel, be constant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, encourage with all patience and instruction; do not hesitate to further the salvation of those through your labour, whom Christ bought with His blood. Magnify your Office, not through pomp and ceremony, or scorn or arrogance; these things cheapen it; but through humble and tireless commitment to the Ministry that you have received from the Lord. Do not deem as unnecessary that Office which the Apostle has deemed necessary; nor a futile service, for performing it there is such great reward, and in neglecting it, such great woe, 1 Cor. 9:16-17. If you are not moved by the souls of others, preach for your own sake, that you may save yourselves. If you do not value your own salvation, preach for the benefit of others, that you may save those who hear you, 1 Tim. 4:16. If there is still ignorance among the people, let them not continue in darkness due to lack of your teaching. If there are still sins among them, let them not perish under them, due to lack of your reproving. If they are still imperfect, let them not remain children, due to lack of your instruction; if they are still exposed to temptation, let not Satan engulf them, due to lack of your resistance to him. If Satan destroys people through his suggestions, he will not answer for them as an officer (he had no oversight of them) but as a murderer only. If you destroy them through your negligence, if the Shepherds do not feed, nor the Physicians heal, nor the Watchmen guard, nor the Stewards provide for the flock, you have betrayed a trust, dishonoured a Lord, exposed a depositum, you will give an account, not only for souls murdered, but for an office neglected, for a talent buried, for a Stewardship unfaithfully and injuriously administered. Oh, therefore, diligently and conscientiously devote yourselves to this heavenly skill of spiritual preaching. Preach in earnest, as those who seriously intend their own and their listeners' salvation. Do not preach as a rhetorician at a desk, merely to amuse ears and to show off; but as an advocate at a bar to defend a client, to save a soul. Convince them of sin - its guilt, its stain, its dominion, its pollution, the curse and condemnation to which the soul is exposed by it - so that your listeners may be awakened, humbled, and effectively cautioned to flee from the coming wrath. Convince them of the all-sufficient righteousness and unfathomable riches of Christ, the excellence of His knowledge, the immeasurability of His love, the preciousness of His promises, the fellowship of His sufferings, the power of His resurrection, the beauties of His holiness, the ease of His yoke, the sweetness of His peace, the joy of His salvation, the hope of His glory, so that the hearts of your listeners may be set aflame within them, and they may fly like doves to their windows for shelter and sanctuary into the arms of such a Redeemer, who is able and willing to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Him, so that they may with ready obedience, and by the compelling power of the love of Christ, surrender themselves to the Government of this Prince of Peace, by whom the Prince of this world is judged and cast out, his works destroyed, and we for this end purchased with a price, so that we should not be our own, but His who bought us, nor live any longer for ourselves, but for Him who loved us, died for us, and rose again.

  2. Do not preach yourselves, your own imaginations, the inventions of your own hearts, do not pit your reason against God's Word, nor your will against His grace, nor your interests against His glory, nor your worldly wisdom against the simplicity of His holy Gospel. Do not preach out of ostentation merely to cater to the whims and intellects of men to entertain or to amuse them, but out of the manifestation of truth to the conscience to please God. Do not preach your own passions and animosities, things that widen divisions, inflame suspicions and discontents, ignite sedition, foster factions, provoke turbulence and unrest, shake the piety that people owe to God, or the loyalty they owe to their Sovereign, or the peace that they ought to promote in Church and State; but as servants of the Prince of Peace, preach those things that make for peace, and which may heal the divisions and calm the unrest that still remain among us.

  1. Preach Christ Jesus the Lord, resolve to acknowledge nothing among your people but Christ crucified, let His name and grace, His spirit and love triumph in the heart of all your Sermons. Let your primary aim be to glorify Him in the hearts, to make Him cherished and precious in the eyes of His people; to guide them to Him as a Sanctuary to protect them, a propitiation to reconcile them, a treasure to enrich them, a Physician to heal them, an Advocate to present them and their services to God: as wisdom to advise, as righteousness to justify, as sanctification to renew, as redemption to save, as an inexhaustible source of pardon, grace, comfort, victory, glory. Let Christ be the shining diamond at the heart of all your Sermons.

  2. Serve the souls, not the whims or desires of men. Consider the value of souls, their excellence, their immortality, the price that purchased them, the sin which defiles them, the curse which destroys them, the grace which renews them, the glory which blesses them. Consider the vigilance of Satan who roams about seeking to devour them. His malice and perseverance, his power and cunning, his fallacies and schemes, his trickery and temptations, the tireless diligence, and diverse methods he uses to destroy them, against whose machinery and plots our Ministry is appointed. Is it a minor sin to appease Satan by neglecting to save those precious souls which he seeks to ruin? Is it a minor sin through our negligence to betray such souls as these, and our own with them, to the risk of eternal damnation? Will we be able to endure the dreadful outcry of destroyed souls whom we had been entrusted, wailing out that sorrowful accusation against us, Parentes sensimus parricidas, our Guides have misled us, our Watchmen have betrayed us, our Pastors have starved us, our Stewards have cheated us, our fathers have been our murderers?

For Jesus' sake, if you love Jesus; It is the argument which He himself uses, John 21:15-17 (and if any man does not love the Lord Jesus, let him be Anathema Maranatha). If you wish for Jesus to love you, if you care for His sheep, if you respect His command, if you fear His wrath, if you value His salvation, consider the worth of souls, snatch souls from the fire, warn souls of the wrath to come, be humble, be faithful, be diligent, be compassionate towards the souls of men. Prove your fidelity, showcase Christ's excellence to the souls of your listeners, so you may be able to say to Him at His coming, as He said to His Father, 'Behold me and the children whom you have given me.' By doing so, you shall both save yourselves and those who hear you.


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