The office of pastor is not one that is to be attained to lightly. If a man desire the office of bishop, he desireth a good work (1st Timothy 3:1). But what is required of such a one? In order to be called a bishop, one must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach... (1st Timothy 3:2). And what is required of him once he takes to the office?
The nature of our office requireth us to ‘take heed to the flock.’ What else are we overseers for "Bishop" is a title which intimates more of’ labor than of honor,’ says Polydore Virgil.’ To be a bishop, or pastor, is not to be set up as an idol for the people to bow to, or as idle ‘slow bellies,’ to live to our fleshly delight and ease; but it is to be the guide of sinners to heaven. It is a sad case that men should be of a calling of which they know not the nature, and undertake they know not what.
Do these men consider what they have undertaken, that live in ease and pleasure, and have time to take their superfluous recreations and to spend an hour and more at once, in loitering, or in vain discourse, when so much work doth lie upon their hands? Brethren, do you consider what you have taken upon you? Why, you have undertaken the conduct, under Christ, of a band of his soldiers ‘against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.’ You must lead them on to the sharpest conflicts; you must acquaint them with the enemies’ stratagems and assaults; you must watch yourselves, and keep them watching.
If you miscarry, they and you may perish. You have a subtle enemy, and therefore you must be wise. You have a vigilant enemy, and therefore you must be vigilant. You have a malicious and violent and unwearied enemy, and therefore you must be resolute, courageous and indefatigable. You are in a crowd of enemies, encompassed by them on every side, and if you heed one and not all, you will quickly fall. And oh, what a world of work have you to do! Had you but one ignorant old man or woman to teach, what a hard task would it be, even though they should be willing to learn! But if they be as unwilling as they are ignorant, how much more difficult will it prove! But to have such a multitude of ignorant persons, as most of us have, what work will it find us! What a pitiful life is it to have to reason with men that have almost lost the use of reason, and to argue with them that neither understand themselves nor you!
O brethren, what a world of wickedness have we to contend against in one soul; and what a number of these worlds! And when you think you have done something, you leave the seed among the fowls of the air; wicked men are at their elbows to rise up and contradict all you have said. You speak but once to a sinner, for ten or twenty times that the emissaries of Satan speak to them.