YOUR PASTOR

In seeking to understand your duty as a
member of the Church, forget not the solemn
duty of holding up the hands and encou-
raging the heart of your pastor.

Any course of conduct which weakens the
influence, or diminishes the respect due a
pastor, injures and cripples the energies of a
church. “This is the heir,” says the enemy,
“let us kill him and the inheritance is ours.”
On the other hand, whatever sustains and
encourages him, promotes the welfare of the
Church.

The pastor in the church is as the leader
in the army. His prominent position, as
holding a solemn office from Christ him-
self, entails on him heavy responsibility,
and for this reason great deference and re-
spect are due him. Hence our Saviour re-
quires for his ministers such high and solemn
honor from the people, saying: “He that
heareth you, heareth me; and he that de-
spiseth you, despiseth me; and he that de-
spiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.”
(St. Luke x. 16.) Ever bear in mind the
solemn warning of the Lord: “Touch not
mine anointed, and do my prophets no
harm.” (Ps. cv. 15.) How excellent also is
the exhortation of St. Paul to the members
of the Church of Thessalonica: “We be-
seech you, brethren, to know them which
labor among you, and are over you in the
Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem
them very highly in love for their work’s
sake.” (Thess. v. 12, 13.) To the Hebrews
the holy apostle also addresses these words:
“Obey them that have the rule over you,
and submit yourselves: for they watch for
your souls as they that must give account,
that they may do it with joy, and not with
grief: for this is unprofitable to you.” (Heb.
xiii. 17.)

What so well sustains a ruler as the virtue
of the citizens? What so much encourages
a teacher as the progress and kind spirit of
his pupils? In like manner, the joy and
success of a pastor depends greatly on the
good spirit of those to whom he ministers.
He feels strong in them. By their kindness
he ministers with joy, by their neglect with
grief.

No one but a pastor knows the disheart-
ening effects of coldness, inconsistencies, or
ungratefulness in members. He prepares a
sermon with deep anxiety and weariness of
mind, and they are not present to hear it.

He breaks their bread, but they come not to
the altar to receive it. He lays his hands
on them in Confirmation, after many exhorta-
tions, prayers, and tears, and they go forth
to dishonor their profession, to wound their
Saviour, and to betray the Church. He
bears them on his heart in public and in
private, by day and by night, and receives
ingratitude in return. It is this that dampens
his zeal, breaks his courage, and turns the
cup of his joy into wormwood and gall.

Remember that your pastor is a public
man, and as such is exposed to the unchari-
table private judgment of many minds. Be-
sides, it is part of his commission to reprove
and condemn the sins of the people; and
hence it cannot be expected that he should
be without enemies. No faithful minister
can please all men. Even Christ could not.
St. Paul could not. The prophets, apostles,
and martyrs could not. Indeed, our Saviour
says: “Wo unto you when all men speak
well of you.” St. Paul says: “Do I seek to
please men? for if I yet pleased men, I
should not be the servant of Christ.” Do
not, therefore, expect this of your pastor.

Remember also that your pastor, though
highly honored of Christ, and sincerely de-
voted to his cause, is yet not an angel. He
is a man “of like passions with yourself,”
and exposed to all the imperfections and
infirmities which cleave to Christians in this
life. Even St. Paul could say: “Not as
though I had already attained, either were
already perfect.” The same apostle, speak-
ing of the ministry, says: “We have this
treasure in earthen vessels, that the excel-
lency of the power may be of God, and not
of us.” (1 Cor. iv. 7.) Regard, therefore,
with great charity, whatever faults and fail-
ings may appear in his spirit and life. To
err is human; to forgive is divine. All eyes
are on him. His position is delicate. His
responsibilities are many. His perplexities
are great. Much is expected of him, and
his mistakes are readily magnified. If you
see an occasional open fault in him, remem-
ber that you see him not in private, where
he writes bitter things against himself, and
weeps over his imperfections, and rejoices in
the pardon which he has received of God,
even while men are still severely holding
him to account.

The children of this world especially, who
are most heavily laden with guilt, are prone
to be most severe in their censures of his
little defects. With beams in their own
eyes, they profess to discern keenly a mote
in his. You must take his part when as-
sailed; defend him when he is misrepre-
sented. In this way will you sustain his
character, and enlarge the circle of his in-
fluence. In proportion as you inspire re-
spect for him in heart, do you increase his
power of doing good.

Study how you shall be kind to your pas-
tor. Words of kindness, acts of kindness,
marks of kindness — these are the earthly
sunlight of a pastor’s life, and the nerves of
his strength. It is by these that he is en-
couraged in his numerous cares, heavy toils,
and responsible duties.

Seek to cultivate your pastor’s love toward
yourself. This is a duty too generally over-
looked. We say cultivate his love, because
it is in your power to do so. The holy apos-
tle exhorts, “Let us consider one another,
to provoke unto love.” (Heb. x. 24.) It is
plain that one person is capable of drawing
the spirit of another toward himself — to in-
cite him to love. We can do that which
will awaken love in the bosom of another
toward us.

God makes it the duty of your pastor to
love you; but remember that he also enjoins
on you to provoke him to love you. Why
are we more inclined to some persons than
toward others? The answer is easy: Be-
cause we see more that calls forth our love
in some than in others. This is the reason
why even Christ was drawn peculiarly to-
ward John, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
They were lovely, and provoked His love
toward them.

Love is not arbitrary. It cannot be pro-
duced by force of will. It presupposes some
attractions in those to be beloved. We see
this law of attraction everywhere, even in
nature. Attractions are ever toward that
which, by its congeniality, attracts. The
birds love the leafy grove. The lambs love
the green meadow. The wild beasts love
the deep, wild forest. In human society,
like seeks its like. Sinners love sinners.
The gay love the gay. All are drawn after
the attraction which provokes them toward
itself.

It is just so in religion. The pure are
drawn toward the pure — saints to saints —
because they discover in each other that
moral likeness, and congeniality of taste and
feeling, which meets outgoings of their own
hearts, and thus imparts happiness. Your
pastor’s love is under the same law. He is
a human being like all others, and can only
love what is lovely, and what attracts him.
It is plain, then, that he is drawn toward
you just in proportion as he finds in you
attractive traits of character; and he must
be repelled from you just in proportion as
he discovers the opposite in you.

All Christians are imperfect, and have
consequently more or less about them which
repels love; but this the kind pastor takes
into charitable consideration, because he
does not claim perfection himself, and is
therefore dependent on the same kind cha-
rity. But, as he is, so are you, bound in
duty to cultivate a lovely spirit and charac-
ter, not merely for the reward which good-
ness secures, but in order that it may be
possible for him to love you.

We have all observed how easy it is to love
some Christians. They are so firm, so con-
sistent, so regular and decided in all their
Christian acts, that we must see an excel-
lence about them which commands our es-
teem. On the other hand, we have all felt
how difficult it is to keep up an exercise of
love toward others. They are so cold, so in-
constant — there is so much lack of all the finer
feelings of the Christian life, we must be
ever making apologies to ourselves for their
inconsistencies and unkindness; and when
we have put the best possible construction
upon their acts and Christian characters, we
must still stand in doubt of them, and find
ourselves ever repelled instead of attracted.

Pastors are sometimes blamed for confiding
more affectionately in some than in others.
Whose fault is it? Do not blame your pas-
tor for the absence of special love toward
you, when there is so little special in you to
love. First blame your Saviour, the Chief
Pastor, for His special love toward John and
the family of Bethany. Make yourself like
them — act toward your pastor in all kind-
ness and love as they did toward our Saviour,
and then, as John was to Christ, so you may
be to your pastor, a “beloved disciple.”

This is a point of great importance. We
would impress it deeply on your mind. Your
own comfort, as well as the pastor’s happi-
ness and power of benefiting you in his min-
istrations, greatly depend on it.

Do you ask how you are to cultivate his
love toward you, your question has already
been substantially answered: By cultivating
your own Christian character, and thus
making yourself worthy of a Christian love.
Nor must you overlook the influence of what,
by an unreflecting person, might be regarded
small matters. Show toward your pastor
little acts of kind remembrance. That circle
of lovely female disciples which we find so
constantly near our Saviour, and toward
whom He was drawn in such special holy
love, “ministered unto Him,” with unceas-
ing attentions. She who anointed His feet
with the alabaster box of ointment, “very
precious” — Martha who so kindly “received
Him into her house” — they who hastened
to His tomb- so early with spices which
they had prepared, to show such touching
love to His sacred body — could not fail to
cheer His weary way, in all His ministerial
life, with little gifts of love, tokens of their
affectionate remembrance, and grateful offer-
ings to His comfort. Tradition says — per-
haps truly — that “the coat woven without
seam from the top throughout,” was the work
of the hands and the gift of the heart of
Mary! Of whom more likely! Can any
one doubt that such like acts of love affected
the heart of even the Son of God, and served
to draw forth that strong holy human love,
the special manifestation of which the Evan-
gelists incidentally, and yet so touchingly,
represent as characterizing His conduct to-
ward these ministering disciples. Do not
think for a moment that your pastor’s heart
is either too dull or too ethereal to be affected
by such delicate touches of kindness and love.

Do not trouble yourself as to the pecuniary
value of the gift you bestow. Its virtue does
not consist in its commercial worth, but in
the evidence of affectionate remembrance
and kindly wishes which it furnishes. Your
pastor sits in his study in weariness and
care; what a sunlight comes into his heart,
with even a bunch of flowers which some
thoughtful and kind-hearted parishioner has
sent to him by a child. By that small token,
the sender quite delicately says: “I have
thought of you — I have been comforted by
your ministrations in the past — grateful
feelings well up in my heart — the Lord
cheer you in your toils and cares! “This,
and much more which cannot be told in
words, is the language of the smallest token
of kind remembrance and Christian affection
coming to a faithful pastor from a grateful
member of the church.

If your gift of kind remembrance be of a
more substantial and valuable kind, it will
only evidence in yourself a stronger feeling
of gratitude and love, and may serve to lessen
the pastor’s worldly cares, while in an in-
creased degree, it cheers his heart and
lightens his labors.

You must not forget that it is your solemn
duty to pray for your pastor. “Brethren,
pray for us, that the word of the Lord may
have free course, and be glorified.” (2 Thess.
iii. 1.) “Brethren, pray for us.” (Heb.
xiii. 18.) “I know,” said Paul when he
was in bonds, “that this shall turn to my
salvation, through your prayers.” (Phil. i.
19.) Who is it that makes these requests?
Was it some poor, weak, ignorant, inexperi-
enced minister who needed specially to be
prayed for? O, no! It was Paul — a man
of learning, a man of experience, a man of
great spiritual power, an apostle, a man in-
spired, in whom dwelt the Holy Ghost! A
hero in religion — a man of zeal, courage,
and unbounded determination — the most
wonderful man the world ever saw — called
by “a vision,” caught up into the third
heaven by “a vision,” honored by our Sa-
viour above all others in that he showed Him-
self to him personally in his call to the min-
istry. This man says: “Pray for us.” Did
he need it? How much more your pastor!
Pray for your pastor. Pray for him in
your closet; and whenever you think of him,
or speak of him, or see him, offer up for him
and his work a silent prayer. Whenever
you think of the interests of the congrega-
tion, pray for him. If you wish him to
preach well, pray for him.

You respect and love him; you delight in
his ministrations; you speak well of him to
others; you take his part against any who
speak evil of him. This is noble, this is
kind, this is Christian-like. But do you
pray for him? Do you speak of him to
God, commend him to His grace, and invoke
His Holy Spirit upon him? Do you attend
to this before you go to church, when you
have entered your pew, and when he rises
to minister in holy things; and during the
service does your heart rise to God for His
blessing on his ministrations to yourself and
others? In the ancient Church the minister
began the most solemn service by saying:
“Lift up your hearts.” To which the people
responded: “We lift them up unto the
Lord.” How beautiful and appropriate!
O, how often do we forget that our ministers
are not angels, but men like ourselves, who
have the great treasure in earthen vessels,
and therefore need our prayers!

VII.

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