24 JUNE (PREACHED 23 JUNE 1776)
Empathize with your ministers
‘Brethren, pray for us.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:25
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 2 Corinthians 6:1–13
To pray for ministers the people must be able to feel for them. Here there is a difference. We know most of your exercises, because we share them with you in common. But you are not proper judges of ours. You do not stand in our place; we must tell you what we feel to engage your pity, but we can never tell you all. I need your prayers, and to engage them, I am desirous at this time a little to open my mind to you upon the subject of our trials. As to myself, if I had only to get through an hour in the pulpit, though I should prize your love and your prayers, I should have no very strong claim to your compassion. My outward trials are neither many or heavy, considering the usual lot of human life. But preaching is not all, and even in preaching, if the Lord has given us a love to our work and to our hearers, we have often, when we seem to speak with liberty, very painful feelings. Had we this desirable liberty always and nothing painful mixed with it, we should soon forget ourselves. This the Lord knows, and finds ways to make us remember what we are, which though necessary, are often very sharp. And though we are supported for public service and some persons may be ready to think we lead happy lives, we could (at least I could) often address you in the words of Job, Have pity upon me, O my friends, for the hand of God has touched me [Job 19:21].
Chief Shepherd of thy chosen sheep,
With plenteous grace their hearts prepare,
From death and sin set free;
To execute thy will;
May every under-shepherd keep
Compassion, patience, love and care,
His eye, intent on thee!
And faithfulness and skill.
Inflame their minds with holy zeal Their flocks to feed and teach; And let them live, and let them feel The sacred truths they preach.
SERMON: 1 THESSALONIANS 5:25 [2/6]