“A pastor’s life should be vocal” by John Owen

“A pastor’s life should be vocal; sermons must be practised as well as preached.

Though Noah’s workmen built the ark, yet themselves were drowned. God will not accept of the tongue where the devil hath the soul.

Jesus did “do and teach,” (Acts 1:1). If a man teach uprightly and walk crookedly, more will fall down in the night of his life than he built in the day of his doctrine.

Now, as to the completing of the exemplary life of a minister, it is required that the principle of it be that of the life of Christ in him, (Gal. 2:20), that when he hath taught others he be not himself “a cast-away,” (1 Cor. 9:27); with which he hath a spiritual understanding, and light given him into the counsel of God, which he is to communicate, (1 John 5:20; 1 Cor. 2:12, 16; 2 Cor. 4:6, 7);—and that the course of it be singular, (Matt. 5:46, Luke 6:32); where unto so many eminent qualifications of the person and duties of conversation are required, (1 Tim. 2:2–7, Titus 1:6–9);—and his aim to be exemplar to the glory of God, (1 Tim. 4:12).

So is their general course and the end of their faith to be eyed, (Heb. 13:7).

And their infirmities, whilst really such, and appearing through the manifold temptations whereunto they are in these days exposed, or imposed on them through the zeal of their adversaries that contend against them, [are] to be covered with love, (Gal. 4:13, 14).

And this men will do when they conscientiously consider that even the lives of their teachers are an ordinance of God, for their relief under temptations, and provocation unto holiness, zeal, meekness, and self-denial.”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 13: Ministry in Fellowship (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 13: 57-58.

“The dear love of my Savior” by Richard Sibbes

“Oh, what should water my heart, and make it melt in obedience unto my God, but the assurance and knowledge of the virtue of this most precious blood of my Redeemer, applied to my sick soul, in the full and free remission of all my sins, and appeasing the justice of God?

What should bow and break my rebellious hard heart and soften it, but the apprehension of that dear love of my Savior, who hath loved me before I loved Him, and now hath blotted out that hand-writing that was against me?

What should enable my weak knees, hold up my weary hands, strengthen my fainting and feebled spirit in constant obedience against so many crosses and afflictions, temptations and impediments, which would stop up my way, but the hope of this precious calling unto glory and virtue?”

–Richard Sibbes, “A Glimpse of Glory,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 7 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 7: 495.

“A pointer to something other and outer” by C.S. Lewis

“But what, in conclusion, of Joy?

For that, after all, is what the story has mainly been about. To tell you the truth, the subject has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian.

I cannot, indeed, complain, like Wordsworth, that the visionary gleam has passed away.

I believe (if the thing were at all worth recording) that the old stab, the old bittersweet, has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever.

But I now know that the experience, considered as a state of my own mind, had never had the kind of importance I once gave it.

It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer.

While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts.

When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter.

He who first sees it cries, “Look!” The whole party gathers round and stares.

But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare.

They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up.

But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold.

‘We would be at Jerusalem.'”

–C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1955), 238.

“His riches are ours” by Richard Sibbes

“Christ is a Son; the Spirit tells us we are sons.

Christ is an heir; the Spirit tells us we are heirs with Christ.

Christ is the king of heaven and earth; the Spirit tells us that we are kings, that His riches are ours.

Thus we have ‘grace for grace,’ (John 1:16) both favor and grace in us, and privileges issuing from grace, we have all as they are in Christ.

Even as in the first Adam we receive of his emptiness, curse for curse, ill for ill; for his blindness and rebellion we are answerable; we are born as he was after his fall: so in the second Adam, by His Spirit, we receive grace for grace.”

–Richard Sibbes, “A Description of Christ,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 19.

“He requires no more than He gives” by Richard Sibbes

“A weak hand may receive a rich jewel. A few grapes will show that the plant is a vine, and not a thorn.

It is one thing to be deficient in grace, and another thing to lack grace altogether.

God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace He requires no more than He gives, but gives what He requires, and accepts what He gives.

What is the gospel itself but a merciful moderation, in which Christ’s obedience is esteemed ours, and our sins laid upon Him, wherein God, from being a judge, becomes our Father, pardoning our sins and accepting our obedience, though feeble and blemished!

We are now brought to heaven under the covenant of grace by a way of love and mercy.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Bruised Reed,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 58.

“A glorious endless state of happiness and holiness” by John Newton

“I often think of you, and I think of you as burdened, but I know there is a might arm near to support you, and to sanctify all your trials.

The Lord will do you good by them, both as a Christian, and as a minister. When the shepherd is much exercised it is usually well for the flock (2 Cor. 1:3-6).

And some of our afflictions perhaps befall us for the sake of our people, that we may be reminded and enabled to speak their feelings, by what we feel ourselves.

In this way the tongue of the learned is acquired and skill to speak a word in season to the weary (Isa. 50:4).

Settle it in your heart, my friend, that the Lord does all things well, all for the best.

Believe it now, and in due time you shall plainly see it, and praise Him equally for giving and taking away (Job 1:21).

Time is short and the nature of our employment while it lasts, is well suited to raise our thoughts above the little concerns of such a life as this, to fill us with great ideas, to inspire with great aims, to animate us with great prospects:

The love of Christ; the worth of souls, the honour of being instrumental in their recovery; a glorious endless state of happiness and holiness.

How light must our present sufferings appear, when weighed in the scales of the Sanctuary against these things.

‘Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.’ (Galatians 6:9)”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 192.

“He is indeed able to save to the uttermost” by John Newton

“Precious Bible, what a treasure!

Blessed be the Lord, I can see that my acceptance, and perseverance, do not depend upon my frames or feelings, but upon the power, compassion, care and faithfulness of Him, who in the midst of all the changes to which we are exposed in this wilderness state, is unchangeably the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

O what a horrid wretch was I when on board the Harwich, on the coast of Africa, and too long afterwards. Surely no one who did not finally perish was ever more apparently given up to a reprobate mind!

I am a singular and striking proof, that the atoning blood of Jesus can cleanse from the most enormous sins, that His grace can soften the hardest heart, subdue the most obstinate habits of evil, and that He is indeed able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Lord I believe, O help me against my unbelief (Mark 9:24).

I have been, yea to this day, I am a chief sinner, and yet I am permitted to preach the truth I once laboured to destroy.”

–John Newton, Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., Ed. Grant Gordon (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2009), 396-397.

“Salvation flows from its deep source in the triune God” by Fred Sanders

“Salvation flows from its deep source in the triune God, who is the fountain of salvation.

This phrase, fountain of salvation, goes back at least to a Latin hymn from the sixth century that praises God as fons salutis Trinitas. As one English translation renders the lines, ‘Blest Trinity, salvation’s spring, may every soul Thy praises sing.’

The sense that the nature of salvation is only understood properly when it is traced back into its principle in the depth of God’s being is evoked by Scripture’s own way of speaking.

The Old Testament bears witness to it in an intensely personal idiom, as for instance in Isaiah 12:2’s confident boast, ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.’

The connection here between God and salvation is direct: He is it.

When Isaiah goes on to spell out an implication of salvation being in God, that is, that there is exuberant resourcefulness to be drawn from, then he uses our fontal image: ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’ (Isaiah 12:3)

According to Christian teaching, salvation’s source is God, and the manifestation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the gospel is what opens up that fountain in its fullness and depth.”

–Fred Sanders, Fountain of Salvation: Trinity and Soteriology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2021), 14-15, 17.

“We are weak, but we are His” by Richard Sibbes

“We are weak, but we are His.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Bruised Reed,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 71.