“We set forth a most tender Father, a bleeding Saviour, and a faithful Comforter” by Charles Bridges

“Love is the grand distinctive mark of our office. It exhibits salvation flowing from the bosom of Divine mercy.

We set forth a most tender Father, a bleeding Saviour, and a faithful Comforter. The spirit of every discourse should be: ‘God is love.’ (1 John 4:8)

Therefore, we should so cast ourselves into the mould of our commission, that we may infuse its very life and character throughout our ministry.

‘Speaking the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15) is perhaps, in a few words, the most complete description of our office. Love should pervade the whole tone of our Ministry.

Tender seriousness commends our office as Ambassadors of a God of love. A scolding Minister only proves he does not understand his errand. No man was ever yet scolded out of his sins.

The Apostles were used to address their people with language expressive of earnest endearment. The extant epistles of the primitive Fathers, the most earnest discourses of Cyprian and Augustine, and the homilies of Chrysostom, are strongly imbued with this character.

The amiable Fenelon observes: ‘I would have every Minister of the Gospel address his hearers with the zeal of a friend, with the generous energy of a father, and with the exuberant affection of a mother.’

This spirit of love must deeply imbue even the language of reproof. We must ‘exhort,’ but ‘with all long-suffering.’ (2 Tim. 4:2)

Meekness, gentleness, and patience must stamp our instruction of the opponents of the Gospel. (2 Tim. 2:24-25) We must wound their consciences as sinners, not their feelings as men.

Trembling, faltering, lips– the index of a heart touched with the melting sympathies of Christ– best become us, as guilty sinners speaking to our fellow-men, not more guilty than ourselves.

We are not arguing, however, for that sensitive delicacy, which refrains to wound, when the patient shrinks. The compulsion of love is the mighty lever of operation.

Love is the life, power, soul, and spirit of pulpit eloquence. Entreating rather than denouncing is the character of our office.

And it is the delivery of our Master’s message with the looks and language of His own manifested tenderness that attracts and triumphs over the hearts of a willing people.

We wonder not at the Apostle’s success, when we read, that at Ephesus he ‘ceased not for three years to warn everyone of them night and day with tears.’ (Acts 20:31)

The Christian pastor, of all men in the world, should have an affectionate heart.

When he preaches, it is the shepherd in search of the strayed sheep, and the father in pursuit of its lost child.

‘The love of Christ will constrain us’ (2 Cor. 5:14) all to some clear evidence of our tender love to His flock.

Love, continual, universal, ardent love is the soul of all the labour of a Minister.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry, with an Inquiry into the Causes of Its Inefficiency (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1830/2020), 356, 357, 358, 359-362.

“Love should pervade the whole tone of our Ministry” by Charles Bridges

“Love is the grand distinctive mark of our office. The Christian Pastor, of all men in the world, should have an affectionate heart.

We set forth a most tender Father, a bleeding Savior, and a faithful Comforter. ‘Speaking the truth in love’ is in a few words the most complete description of our office.

Love should pervade the whole tone of our Ministry.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1830/2005), 333, 338.

“Let Christ be the diamond to shine in all your sermons” by Charles Bridges

“Preach Christ Jesus the Lord. Determine to know nothing among your people, but Christ crucified.

Let His name and grace, His spirit and love, triumph in the midst of all your sermons.

Let your great end be to glorify Him in the heart, to render Him amiable and precious in the eyes of His people, to lead 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 counsel them, as righteousness to justify, as sanctification to renew, as redemption to save.

Let Christ be the diamond to shine in the bosom of all your sermons.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1830/2005), 258.

“Nothing but love from Him” by Charles Spurgeon

“What I have to say lastly is this: how greatly I desire that you who are not yet enlisted in my Lord’s band would come to Him because you see what a kind and gracious Lord He is! Young men, if you could see our Captain, you would down on your knees and beg Him to let you enter the ranks of those who follow Him.

It is heaven to serve Jesus. I am a recruiting sergeant, and I would fain find a few recruits at this moment. Every man must serve somebody: we have no choice as to that fact. Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self or the Saviour.

You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find Him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls. He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was His like among the choicest of princes.

He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold He always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on His shoulders. If He bids us carry a burden, He carries it also.

If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in Him. These forty years and more have I served Him, blessed be His name! And I have had nothing but love from Him.

I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased Him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Statue of David for the Sharing of the Spoil,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. XXXVII (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1891), 323-324. These were the last words Spurgeon ever preached in the pulpit at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, delivered on June 7, 1891.

“Put your heart into your sermon” by Charles Bridges

“The Minister, that does not manifestly put his heart into his sermon, will never put his sermon into the hearts of his people. Pompous elocution, attempts at theatrical display, or affected emotions, are indeed most repugnant to the simple dignity of our office. A painted fire may glare, but will not warm.

Violent agitations, without correspondent tenderness of feeling, will disgust instead of arresting the mind. Preaching is not (as some appear to think it) the work of the lungs, or the mimicry of gesture, or the impulse of uncontrollable feeling; but the spiritual energy of a heart constrained by the love of Christ, and devoted to the care of those immortal souls, for whom Christ died.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1830/2005), 320.

“Believe, wait, and work” by Charles Bridges

“It is faith that enlivens our work with perpetual cheerfulness. It commits every part of it to God, in the hope, that even mistakes shall be overruled for His glory; and thus relieves us from an oppressive anxiety, often attendant upon a deep sense of our responsibility.

The shortest way to peace will be found in casting ourselves upon God for daily pardon of deficiencies and supplies of grace, without looking too eagerly for present fruit. Hence our course of effort is unvarying, but more tranquil. It is peace—not slumber, rest in the work—not from it.

Faith also supports us under the trials of our Ministerial warfare with the clear view of the faithfulness of the covenant, and the stability of the church. And indeed, as all the promises are made to faith, or to the grace springing from it, this is the only spring of Christian courage, and Christian hope.

Unbelief looks at the difficulty. Faith regards the promise… But after all, the grand secret is habitually to have our eye upon Christ. Peter—looking at the waves instead of the Saviour— began to sink.

We too—if we look at the difficulties of our work, and forget the upholding arm of our ever-present Head—shall sink in despondency. Believe—wait— work—are the watchwords of the Ministry.

Believing the promise, gives the power to wait. Waiting supplies strength for work, and such working is not in ‘vain in the Lord.'”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1830/2005), 178-179.

“Scatter seed, believe, and wait” by Charles Bridges

“Our plain and cheering duty is therefore to go forward — to scatter the seed, to believe and to wait. Yet must there be expectancy as well as patience.

The warrant of success is assured, not only as regards an outward reformation, but a spiritual change of progressive and universal influence. The fruit of Ministerial labour is not indeed always visible in its symptoms, nor immediate in its results, nor proportioned to the culture.

Faith and patience will be exercised — sometimes severely so. But after a painstaking, weeping seed-time, we shall bring our sheaves with rejoicing, and lay them upon the altar of God, ‘that the offering up of them might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.’

Meanwhile we must beware of saying— ‘Let him make speed, and hasten his work that we may see it.’ The measure and the time are with the Lord. We must let Him alone with His own work.

Ours is the care of service — His is the care of success. The Lord of the harvest must determine when, and what, and where the harvest shall be.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1830/2005), 76.

“The attentive study of the Scriptures” by Charles Bridges

“Let the Theologian ascend from the lower school of natural study, to the higher department of Scripture, and, sitting at the feet of God as his teacher, learn from His mouth the hidden mysteries of salvation, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard which none of the princes of this world knew which the most accurate reason cannot search out; which the heavenly chorus of angels, though always beholding the face of God, desire to look into.

In the hidden book of Scripture, and nowhere else, are opened the secrets of the more sacred wisdom. Whatever is not drawn from them—whatever is not built upon them—whatever does not most exactly accord with them—however it may recommend itself by the appearance of the most sublime wisdom, or rest upon ancient tradition, consent of learned men, or the weight of plausible argument—is vain, futile, and, in short, a very lie.

To the law and to the testimony. If any one speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Let the Theologian delight in these sacred oracles: let him exercise himself in them day and night, let him meditate on them, let him live in them, let him derive all his wisdom from them, let him compare all his thoughts with them, and let him embrace nothing in religion which he does not find here.

Let him not bind his faith to a man— not to a Prophet—not to an Apostle—not even to an Angel himself, as if the dictum of either man or angel were to be the rule of faith. Let his whole ground of faith be in God alone. For it is a Divine, not a human faith, which we learn and teach; so pure that it can rest upon no ground but the authority of God, who is never false, and never can deceive.

The attentive study of the Scriptures has a sort of constraining power. It fills the mind with the most splendid form of heavenly truth, which it teaches with purity, solidity, certainty, and without the least mixture of error. It soothes the mind with an inexpressible sweetness.

It satisfies the sacred hunger and thirst for knowledge with flowing rivers of honey and butter. It penetrates into the innermost heart with irresistible influence. It imprints its own testimony so firmly upon the mind, that the believing soul rests upon it with the same security, as if it had been carried up into the third heaven, and heard it from God’s own mouth.

It touches all the affections, and breathes the sweetest fragrance of holiness upon the pious reader, even though he may not perhaps comprehend the full extent of his reading.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1830/2005), 58-59.

“The Church” by Charles Bridges

“The Church is the mirror that reflects the whole effulgence of the Divine character. It is the grand scene of the display of the Divine Perfections. The revelations made to the Church– the successive grand events in her history– and, above all– the manifestation of the Divine glory in the Person of the Son of God, furnish even to the heavenly intelligences fresh subjects of adoring contemplation.”

–Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), 1.