10 January 2008

"The Reformed Pastor"--stir up repentance, withstand reproach

Two admonitions here from "The Reformed Pastor". One, we should never tread lightly when warning people about their sins. We should never seek to help these people gloss over their transgressions, for these lead to damnation--we are no friend to these people if we let them remain in their sinful habits.

Two, we must remember that we will face opposition from the world. There will always be those who think their vain, worldly philosophies are so much more clever than the truth of Scripture. They think that they have things figured out so much better then we who know the Truth. And many there are that cower when they hear the term "atheist", as though this title carries with it some greater knowledge and wisdom of things than the one who fears the LORD (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; 1st Corinthians 1:20-21).
Take heed, therefore, that you do not connive at the sins of your people, under pretense of love, for that were to cross the nature and end of love. Friendship must be cemented by piety. A wicked man cannot be a true friend; and, if you befriend their wickedness, you show that you are wicked yourselves. Pretend not to love them, if you favor their sins, and seek not their salvation. By favoring their sins, you will show your enmity to God; and then how can you love your brother? If you be their best friends, help them against their worst enemies. And think not all sharpness inconsistent with love: parents correct their children, and God himself ‘chastens every son whom he receiveth.’ Augustine saith, ‘Better it is to love even with the accompaniment of severity, than to mislead by (excess of) lenity.’

10. We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’

We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!

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