25 JUNE (PREACHED 23 JUNE 1776)
The trials of a minister
‘Brethren, pray for us.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:25
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 2 Timothy 4:1–8
We are tried in private. I should be happy indeed, if I always felt the comforts of those truths which I trust at times comfort many of you when I set them forth here. But if any of you know what it is to groan under the power of unbelief and indwelling sin, deadness in prayer and even unwillingness to pray, coldness and confusion in reading the Scripture, be assured that preaching with some earnestness and apparent pleasure, at times, does by no means secure us from these groanings. One of my greatest trials is the difference between what I may seem to be in public, and what I feel myself to be in private, which has made me often ready to compare myself to a player on a stage. We are tried in the pulpit: a consciousness of the weakness and unskilfulness of our best attempts, the evils that beset us in our most solemn services, a conviction how far we fall short ourselves of what we propose to you, and sometimes a straitness and dryness of spirit when we must speak, though we know not what we can say. If private believers are not in a frame of mind to speak they may keep silence, but ministers are like post horses—when the hour comes, they must set out, whatever disadvantages attend the journey.
FOR MEDITATION: The afternoon service approaches. Do thou give me wisdom and a blessing. There is great cause for humiliation and prayer amongst us. In vain shall I try to teach their hearts, unless thou art pleased to work.
Diary, Sunday 23 June 1776
[immediately prior to preaching this sermon]
Ah, my Lord, I seem to be something when among my fellow creatures, but am nothing in thy sight—a poor heartless worm. I had words to speak at the Great House, but to myself—words without feeling. I am beset with evils, which, like the canker upon a tree, keep me low. O Lord, put forth thy power—blow with thy wind, dissolve the ice and cause the waters to flow.161
Diary, 4 June 1776
SERMON: 1 THESSALONIANS 5:25 [3/6]