What do we need elders for?

What do we need elders for?

What do we need elders for?
James Guthrie (1612-1661) was one of the most prominent Covenanters. Nicknamed “Sicker Foot” (Sure Foot) for his steadfastness and he was vocal in criticising the future Charles II and Oliver Cromwell. He was the first of the Covenanters to be sentenced to public execution by hanging.

The elders in a congregation are primarily there to watch over the flock, and their work includes both engaging with people one-to-one and collaboratively working with fellow elders. In his helpful treatise on elders and deacons, James Guthrie sets out what responsibilities elders have. As shown in the following excerpt from a recent edition of his treatise, Guthrie makes no attempt to play down the weightiness of the work, but highlights for us the importance of having the right people in office.

The duties of a ruling elder are watching over and ruling the flock, and they are of two sorts. Some duties they are to perform by themselves alone, and so may be regarded as more ‘private’ duties. Other duties they are to perform jointly with the rest of the overseers of the household of God, which may be called more ‘public.’

Elders acting individually

The duties of their calling which they should perform by themselves individually are all the duties which all Christians, office-bearers or not, are required to perform to each other by the law of charity and love.

  • To instruct one another (John 4:29; Acts 18:26).
  • To exhort and stir up one another, to provoke each other to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • To admonish and rebuke one another (Leviticus 19:17). We should first speak to an offending brother or sister privately, and if they will not listen, then before witnesses. If they still will not listen, then we are to tell the church; and if they will not hear the church, then let them be to us as heathens and publicans (Matthew 18:15-17).
  • To comfort the afflicted, and to support the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • To restore those who have fallen (Galatians 6:1).
  • To reconcile those who are at variance (Matthew 5:9).
  • To pray one for another (Jude 20).
  • To visit the sick, and those who are in bonds and distress (Matthew 25:36).

All these duties elders are to perform towards the various individual members of the congregation, by virtue of their calling. The Scriptures expressly mention some of them as incumbent on elders, namely, admonishing those whom God has set them over (1 Thessalonians 5:12), visiting and praying over the sick (James 5:14), and feeding the flock by instruction, exhortation, rebuke, and comfort in such a way as is competent to their station (Acts 20:28).

The rest we may warrantably gather by analogy and proportion from these. If individual Christians who are not office-bearers are obliged to do certain duties, much more are Christian elders in a special way obliged to do them, considering they have the responsibility of caring for souls. These things are expressed well in the sixth chapter of the Second Book of Discipline.

From what has been said concerning the duties of ruling elders acting individually, these three things follow.

1. Firstly, elders ought to be men who are in some measure able to instruct, exhort, admonish, rebuke, comfort, pray, and do these duties we have mentioned.

2. Secondly, elders need not only to have some measure of ability for these things, but also to have some measure of dexterity, wisdom, experience and tenderness in carrying them out.

3. Thirdly, elders ought to be well acquainted with the condition of the congregation and its members. They should therefore be careful to observe how they live their lives, and frequently visit and evaluate what progress families are making, so that they may instruct the ignorant, exhort the negligent, admonish the slothful, rebuke those who walk disorderly, comfort the afflicted, establish those who waver, visit the sick, encourage these who do well, promote piety and godliness in families, and see every one edifying each other in love, walking in the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Ghost.

In order that elders may more conveniently discharge their duty it is convenient that the congregation should be divided into so many parts and that some competent part be assigned to the more peculiar care and inspection of every elder — yet in such a way as he would not neglect to take heed to all the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost has made him an overseer.

Elders acting jointly

Elders also have duties which they are to perform jointly with other elders. These duties lie on them in the assemblies or courts of the church which are made up of preaching elders, teaching elders, and ruling elders.

These assemblies are of four sorts in our church.

  • Assemblies of the elders of particular congregations. These are known as the church session or the kirk session.
  • Assemblies of the elders of more than one congregation from the same geographical area. This is known as the presbytery.
  • Assemblies of the elders of more than one presbytery. These are known as the provincial synod.
  • Assemblies of the elders commissioners from all the presbyteries in the land. This is known as the general or national assembly.

To these we may add a fifth sort, namely, the assemblies which are made up of elders from all or many different nations professing the faith of Jesus Christ. This is known as a council.

When we speak of the elders of which the assemblies of the church are made up, we mean all sorts of elders: ministers, doctors and ruling elders. However, it is true that, in the congregations of our church, there are few or no doctors or teaching elders distinct from pastors or ministers (who perform the duties both of the preaching elder, and of the teaching elder). Doctors or teaching elders tend to hold office only in seminaries or theological colleges.

In all assemblies of the church, ruling elders have power to sit, write, debate, vote, and conclude in all the matters that are handled.

The things which are handled in the assemblies of the church are either matters of faith, matters of order, matters of discipline, or that which concerns the sending of church office-bearers. Accordingly, church assemblies have a fourfold power.

  • Dogmatic. By this power an assembly judges truth and error in points of doctrine, according to the Word of God only.
  • Diatactic (relating to external order and policy). By this power an assembly discerns and judges the circumstances of things that belong to the worship of God, like times, places, persons, and all the details in ecclesiastical affairs which are not explicitly determined in the Word. The assembly judges in these matters according to the general rules of the Word, i.e., its rules concerning order and decency, not causing stumbling, and doing all to the glory of God and the edifying of the church.
  • Corrective (or critical). By this power, an assembly gives out censures on those who cause stumbling and who obstinately refuse the admonition of the church, and the assembly readmits those who are penitent back into to the ordinances, fellowship and society of the church.
  • Exousiastic (wielding authority). By virtue of this power an assembly sends, authorises and gives power to church office-bearers to serve in the household of God.

Not all these assemblies are to exercise all these powers, but they are to keep themselves within their due bounds, with lower courts leaving things that are of wider concernment to the higher courts. But in all these powers ruling elders have a share, and they exercise these powers according to the measure that belongs to the assembly of which they are members. However, some decrees of church assemblies, such as the imposition of hands, pronouncing the sentence of excommunication, readmitting penitents, deposing ministers, and such like, belong to ministers alone.

If these are the duties and powers of ruling elders in the assemblies of the church, it is requisite that elders should be endued with the abilities and qualifications which are needful in order to exercise them.

Nevertheless, in particular congregations it may happen that men may be chosen as elders even though they do not have a large measure of all these qualifications. This is because all ruling elders are not always called to sit in all these assemblies. Instead it is sufficient to have one elder from every session for the presbytery and provincial synods, and a few from every presbytery and from larger congregations or burghs in that place for the general assembly, as also a few from the whole church throughout a nation would be sufficient for a more universal council.

Therefore, although it is to be wished and endeavoured that all elders would have the due qualifications for all these things, and although special care is to be taken everywhere to choose the most qualified, yet in particular congregations men may be chosen as elders even when they lack a large measure of all the requisite qualifications, as they are otherwise men of blameless and Christian walk, and they have a measure of knowledge and prudence which is fit for governing that congregation, and judging the things that are handled in its session (which for the most part will be disciplinary cases, and examining and admitting penitents).

But if there are any who are not of a blameless and Christian conversation, and do not have some measure of the qualifications required by the Word of God in a ruling elder, no congregation ought to choose someone like that to be their elder. Nor should any session or presbytery admit them to the charge of elder, for it is not seemly that the servants of corruption should have authority to judge in the church of God. And if any men like this have been admitted to the office of elder, the session or presbytery should endeavour to remove them from office, knowing that they do not want to partake of their sin, and be found guilty before the Lord of the blood of souls, for souls cannot but be disadvantaged through the negligence or bad guiding of such men.

This updated excerpt is taken from the book titled Ruling Elders and Deacons, by James Guthrie, published by Reformation Press (2017).

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What makes an ideal elder

What makes an ideal elder

What makes an ideal elder
James Guthrie (1612-1661) was one of the most prominent Covenanters. Nicknamed “Sicker Foot” (Sure Foot) for his steadfastness and he was vocal in criticising the future Charles II and Oliver Cromwell. He was the first of the Covenanters to be sentenced to public execution by hanging.

If it is dangerous to any church to have ministers who are not called and qualified for their office, we must be equally concerned to have qualified elders. Zeal for the Lord’s honour and the gospel, love to souls and fear of the Lord’s judgment will make this a priority. One of the key elements contributing to discipline, peace and orderliness in congregations (and the wider community) is an effective eldership. Yet many elders are either unaware of the responsibilities of their office or not conscientious about fulfilling them. To address this, James Guthrie wrote a treatise on elders and deacons. The following excerpt from a recent edition of his treatise presents his explanation of the qualifications of a ruling elder.

The qualifications of a ruling elder

The qualifications of a ruling elder are of two sorts. Some are personal and relate to his way of life as a Christian. Others are official and relate to how he rules as an office-bearer in the household of God.

His personal qualifications, or the duties of his way of life are the same as the apostle requires in a minister (1 Timothy 3:2–7; 1 Timothy 6:11; Titus 1:6–8). In these passages, under the name of episkopos ‘overseer,’ Paul includes all the office-bearers who have the oversight and charge of souls, and sets down what manner of persons they should be in regard to their walk and lifestyle.

It is beyond question that the ruling elder ought to have a blameless and Christian way of life. However, to make it clear what the Holy Spirit requires of ruling elders, I shall show from these passages, first, what Paul says they should not be, and secondly, what he says they should be.

What a ruling elder should not be

A ruling elder must not be given to wine. He must not be a lover nor a follower of strong drink, nor go to excess in reckless debauchery, nor tipple away time in ale-houses and taverns.

He must not be a striker nor a brawler, nor given to quarrelling and contentions.

He must not be covetous, nor greedy of filthy lucre. The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some covet after, they err from the faith, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).

He must not be a novice, or one newly come to the faith, lest he be puffed up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. The spirits of novices are not yet well ballasted, nor have they been brought low enough by frequent exercises of the cross, and so they come to be more easily puffed up. The ruling elder needs to be an exercised soldier of Jesus Christ, someone who has been taught by experience to know the wiles of the devil, and who is able to endure hardship.

He must not be self-willed. He must not adhere obstinately and unreasonably to his own opinion, refusing to listen to the views of his brethren, even when their views are sound and wholesome.

He must not be soon angry, either for real or perceived causes of provocation.

What a ruling elder should be

The elder must be blameless. He must be someone who walks without offence towards God and others.

If married, he must be the husband of one wife. He must be the kind of person who shuns all immoral lusts, satisfying himself with, and keeping himself within the bounds of the remedy provided by God.

He must be vigilant. He must be watchful over his own soul, so that no temptation will prevail on him, and he must be watchful for every good duty, to take hold of every opportunity of well doing.

He must be sober, and temperate, of a sound and humble mind. He must moderate his own appetite and affections, and satisfy himself with a moderate use of created things and the things of this world.

He must be of good behaviour, or modest. He must act in a dignified and respectable, yet friendly and considerate manner, neither light or vain so that he loses his authority and makes himself contemptible, nor sullen and self-important so that the flock are discouraged and scared away by his needless distance and severity.

He must be given to hospitality. He must be ready to receive strangers to his house, especially the poor, and those who are of the household of faith.

He must be apt to teach. He must be a man of knowledge, able to instruct others, someone who has a ready and willing mind to teach others. This does not mean that it is requisite for the ruling elder to have the gift of exhortation and instruction which is competent to the pastor and teacher, or that he may or ought to employ himself in that work. It means rather the fitness and ability to teach that is competent to his calling, which he must be ready and willing to exercise to the extent that teaching is part of his work.

He must take a balanced approach to things. He must not be rigorous or determined to exact the full penalty of the law in his dealings, but be flexible and willing to meet people half way, especially when it comes to his own personal interests, and willing to waive things instead of demanding strict justice.

He must be patient, one who without wearying perseveres in his duty, notwithstanding difficulties, and bears the delays, intractableness, and injuries of others.

He must be someone who rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. The apostle adds this reason for this requirement, ‘If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?’ The church of God has a larger extent than one family, and the duties to be performed in it are of greater eminence and difficulty, and require more skill, wisdom and courage than the duties to be performed in a family. To rule his own house well means not only that he has the ability to do it, but also that he makes conscience of it, and actually performs the duties which are required in order for a Christian family to be rightly and well ordered. For example, he must teach and instruct his children and all who belong to the household in the knowledge of God. He must take care about how they sanctify the Lord’s day, and make progress in godliness, and seek God, and regulate their behaviour and lifestyle. He must read the Scriptures, and sing psalms, and pray in the family. With his whole household, he must exhort, admonish, rebuke, and comfort, as each one’s condition requires. For if these duties lie on all heads of families who profess the gospel, then in a special way they lie on elders, who are appointed to stir up others and go before them in performing them.

He must have a love for good men. He must be someone whose soul cleaves to those who fear God, esteeming them above all others, cherishing them, and conversing ordinarily and familiarly with them.

He must be just. He must be someone who is straight and upright in all his dealings with others, deceiving no one, defrauding no one, withholding nothing from any one that is due to him, but giving to every one their due.

He must be holy, careful to express the life of religion and power of godliness in all his conversation.

He must be someone who holds fast the faithful Word that he has been taught. He must be stable in the faith, holding fast the truth of God, without wavering or turning aside to error.

Lastly, he must be someone who has a good report from those who are outside the church, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. He must be the kind of person whose blameless manner of living, and sober and Christian walking extorts a favourable testimony even from those who do not know God — someone who by well-doing puts to silence the ignorance of the foolish, so that if any speak evil of him as of an evil doer, they may be ashamed for speaking falsely against his good way of living in Christ. The apostle summarises all this in two sentences: ‘Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation behaviour, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity’ (1 Timothy 4:12), and, ‘follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness’ (1 Timothy 6:11).

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Where is the post-Covid drift taking us?

Where is the post-Covid drift taking us?

Where is the post-Covid drift taking us?
James Guthrie (1612-1661) was one of the most prominent Covenanters. Nicknamed “Sicker Foot” (Sure Foot) for his steadfastness and he was vocal in criticising the future Charles II and Oliver Cromwell. He was the first of the Covenanters to be sentenced to public execution by hanging.

How should we respond to the massive upheavals that have taken place nationally and internationally over the last couple of years? If we think about it in the abstract, perhaps it seems obvious that after a time of turmoil and distress, we would re-dedicate ourselves to the Lord and more earnestly seek his grace to put more energy into serving him. Now that restrictions on social and church life have eased, we have many opportunities to do this. But instead of being re-energised as we emerge from the pandemic, many believers feel they are struggling to shake off a kind of spiritual lethargy. They feel they are doing little more than just drifting along. Could the Lord be leaving us to cope with the aftermath more or less by ourselves? How then can we possibly cope? Why does he not intervene mightily to invigorate his weary church?

In this updated extract, James Guthrie shows he was familiar with this same problem. He looks first at where God is going – is he coming towards us to bless us with more of his presence, or is he withdrawing? Then he looks at where we are going – turning inwards on ourselves or reaching upwards for God’s help? What progress are we making?

What direction is God going?

When the Lord is present with us in society, this is manifested in what we call the common operations of the Spirit. For example, he gives people the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, fortitude, temperance, justice, courage and so on.
When the Lord is present with us in the church, this can be seen in one of two ways. One way is in the ordinary gifts of the Spirit (ordinary as distinct from saving grace). These include the gift of ministry, or teaching, or exhortation, or church-ruling, which he uses to enable the saints to grow, and to edify the body of Christ (Romans 12:6,7; Ephesians 4:8,11,12). The other way is in the special operations of the Spirit, when he gives sanctifying and saving grace, and by his continued influences makes his people more and more renewed in the inward man day by day. To the extent that God gives or withdraws his presence in these things, so his people prosper or decay.

Whichever of these we think of, we have to admit that God has to some extent or another departed from amongst us. He has left us under a cloud of desertion.

In society, wisdom and understanding, courage, strength, and success have been taken from us. He has mingled a perverse spirit in the midst of us that causes us to err in every work.

Likewise in church and church administration, the Lord is not showing his presence. The unity and authority of pastors and church courts is gravely weakened. He has divided us in his anger, and though we have attempted to heal our wounds and recover our strength, yet our endeavours up to now have for most part been frustrated by the Lord. There is bruising instead of binding up, and much bitter contention and strife in many of our meetings. Instead of the sweet fruits of edifying unity and peace, whilst we should pull together in unison in the work of the Lord, some pull one way and others another, rendering our endeavours almost useless to the church, comfortless to ourselves, and despicable to others.

In the ordinances, the Lord is restraining and withholding the blessing which should come from them. Plenty is sown, yet little is harvested.

The word of salvation is only rarely blessed in the hand of ministers to the converting of souls. Faithful ministers across the land feel that they labour in vain and spend their strength for nothing. Many souls who claim to be converted and have a real union with Jesus Christ are suffering a dreadful withering and decay. Tenderness is gone. Influences of the Spirit are withheld. Prayer is restrained and shut out. Faith fails. Love has grown cold. Hearts are hardened like stones. There is little or no delight in God or in his Word or in the fellowship of his people. Corruptions are rife, and heart plagues abound. God hides his face and is like a stranger to his people, leaving them to wrestle alone in their duties and difficulties.

And yet while the Lord’s people would admit all this, they make so little fuss about his departings! Maybe we have some remembrance a better condition, when we enjoyed his fellowship, and some sense of our loss and its bad consequences. This brings some sort of desire to recover our former state – but how faint and feckless these desires are! We are effectively content to live without God, and to let him go without even attempting to take hold of the hem of his garments.

If the Lord’s gracious influences were strong on our hearts, we would not, we could not, easily contemplate his departing. We would not, and could not, hold our peace, night or day, until he returned and revived his work. The fact that we sit, almost satisfied, and silent under his withdrawings suggests that many of us, though we have a name that we are living, are actually dead, and that the spiritual life which remains in others is ready to die (Revelation 3:1-2.).

What direction are we going?

1. Going on without basic gospel truths

Multitudes of people go on in a profound lack of familiarity with the gospel and the necessary truths of God. Light has come amongst us, but many love darkness rather than light. Often too this ignorance is unforced and perverse.

2. Going on in routines

Formalism – that is, a form of godliness without the power of godliness – abounds and prevails among us.

3. Going on fruitlessly

Even when we know and obey the gospel, we are barren and unfruitful in our spiritual life. Our outstanding sin is that in spite of the fact that the Lord waters us plentifully with the dew of heaven and the sweet rain of the gospel day by day, yet most of us are still only an empty vine, which brings forth fruit to ourselves, but not to God.

4. Growing weary of the things of God

We have grown weary of the precious things of God, and the blessed opportunities they bring us. Instead we prefer our own worldly advantages. Many are tired of the ordinances. Many are tired of the Lord’s Day, and halve it between God and the world. Many value our blessed Lord Jesus and the inestimable treasure of the gospel at a very low rate, much less than thirty pieces of silver.

5. Going on without listening to God

We refuse to hearken to God. Are we not a rebellious and gainsaying people? We neither fear the threatenings of God to repent, nor embrace his promises to believe, nor listen to his commandments to obey.

6. Going on with unfaithful ministers

Although there are many precious ministers who study to divide the Word of God aright, warning the wicked to turn from the evil of their ways, and encouraging the godly in godliness, yet not all ministers are like this. There are others who heal the hurt of the daughter of the Lord’s people slightly, and speak peace to these to whom the Lord does not speak peace. They bite with the teeth those who ought to be encouraged and comforted (Micah 3:5).
The goal of some ministers is not to commend themselves to every man’s conscience as in the sight of God. Instead they handle the Word of God deceitfully, so as to make the hearts of the righteous sad (by turning the edge of their doctrine against them, referring to them as hypocrites and narrow-minded), and on the other side to strengthen the hands of the wicked to persist in his wicked way.

7. Going against our commitments

We keep dealing treacherously with God in the matter of his covenant. We have all made covenants with God (at least the covenant of our baptism). The terms and intentions of these covenants include walking close with God, zeal for the kingdom of Jesus Christ and against his open enemies, and reforming ourselves in our various roles and capacities. Yet surely we must acknowledge that most of us have not only come exceedingly far short in these, but we have palpably transgressed. The sinfulness of this is greatly heightened by the greatness of the Lord’s mercies and his wonderful works on our behalf.

8. Going away from our first love

We have forsaken our first love (Revelation 2:4). Even if we compare ourselves with ourselves – what we are now with what we were, perhaps even a very few years ago – we will see this. But what is worse, we seem to have fallen further from our first love than the church of Ephesus. Jesus Christ acknowledged some good points about Ephesus. ‘I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil, and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted’ (Revelation 2:2-3). Do we deserve a testimony like this? More likely, we come far short in all these things. Where are our works, and where is our labour and patience, and where is our zeal against those that are evil? The reality is that we are a barren and fruitless people. Our way is full of murmuring and fretting. We allow many who say they are pastors, and are not, to go on without investigation. We decline to take up the cross of Jesus Christ, and refuse to endure and labour for his name. We either faint or turn aside to crooked ways. And shall we fall so far short of Ephesus in all these things, and yet not fear the removal of our candlestick?

Conclusion

Are we and our God drifting apart? Of course the Lord never leaves any of his people completely, or lets any of them leave him completely. But relatively speaking, there can be times when we back away from God and turn our backs on his ways and his grace. Correspondingly God can hide his face from us instead of shining on us the light of his countenance. Then the last thing we should do is let things go on as they are. Instead we need to battle the inertia and shake off our lethargy. If we follow the advice to the church at Ephesus, we will remember our first love, repent, and do the first works.

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How to Prepare for Life’s Storms

How to Prepare for Life’s Storms

How to Prepare for Life’s Storms
James Guthrie (1612-1661) was one of the most prominent Covenanters. Nicknamed “Sicker Foot” (Sure Foot) for his steadfastness and he was vocal in criticising the future Charles II and Oliver Cromwell. He was the first of the Covenanters to be sentenced to public execution by hanging.

Sudden storms can arise in any area of our lives and experience. Storms can enter the Church or perhaps dark clouds seem to loom on the horizon of national life.  The challenges, the anxiety and the sufferings can be intense. The Lord Jesus Christ warned us that storms and “tribulation” are inevitable. Yet even in giving this warning, He also promises peace and hope to sustain us through the storms. James Guthrie (1612-1661) faced fierce storms with hope and confidence. Only because he had prepared for them in advance. He gives us invaluable counsel about how to prepare for life’s storms.

Guthrie was the first of the Covenanters called to give their lives at the scaffold. How is it possible that he could be cheerful on the day of his execution? He said: “This the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice in it”. It was because he was prepared to suffer. The words that he said as he ascended the ladder to suffer explain it further. He said: “sin and suffering have been presented to me and I have chosen the suffering part”. “I durst not redeem my life with the loss of my integrity,” he said. “I did judge it better to suffer than to sin.”

He believed that there was something infinitely worse than the storms of life. One day a friend of his was urging him to compromise a little. “Mr Guthrie, we have an old Scots proverb,” he said. ‘Jouk [duck] that the wave may gang oure ye! Will ye nae jouk a wee bit?’ Guthrie replied “There is nae jouking in the Cause of Christ!” That was his preparation. He took his 5-year-old boy on his knee before he died. “Willie,” he said, ” they will tell you, and cast up to you that your father was hanged; but think not shame of it, for it is upon a good cause.”

The following is extracted and updated from his last sermon. Guthrie went into prison the following Thursday. The sermon was on the storm that the Lord Jesus and His disciples faced in Matthew 14:22-24. It breathes his concern, not for himself, but for his land and the Church of Christ. It echoes the concern he expressed. “There is a dark cloud coming on, and the Lord is about to sweep this land with the besom [broom] of destruction”.

Our situation may be far different. As one perceptive recent article notes, the Church in our nation is experiencing “a dead calm”. Yet sometimes, resolute contending for the truth is accompanied by “a necessary storm”. In fact, storms may not be too far away from the spiritual weather patterns affecting our nation.

If it is the case that tempests and storms are likely to blow, then we must prepare carefully for them. There are a few things we would mention to which we must attend in order to prepare ourselves.

 

1. Unload All Unnecessary Burdens

We must be careful to have our ship as light as possible from all unnecessary burdens. I mean, all things of this present World, all things besides God and our precious soul. We must have as little weight of these things on our spirits as possible; for they will sink our ship in a storm.

 

2. Make Friends with the Pilot

We must be careful to make friends with Jesus Christ, the blessed Pilot. We must get Him in the ship with us, for we are not able to steer our ship in a storm.

 

3. Keep a Low Sail

We must be careful to keep a low sail. That is, to have our spirits humble and low before the Lord. The humble soul is most likely to hold out when the wind and storm blows.

 

4. Know what You Profess

We must be careful to know the cause that we profess. A dark night is bad for sailing in. Especially when the wind blows, and when there are quicksands ahead of us.

 

5. Keep a Good Ballast

We must be careful to have our ship well-ballasted with the faith and patience of the saints.

 

 

Reasons to be Encouraged

We must consider what reasons for comfort we can have. These can strengthen our hearts if we hold fast to the cause of Jesus Christ. They will help us survive any storm that it is God’s will for us to endure. We might mention many. But at this time we will only consider these few.

 

1. You have a Good Cause

The first reason to be encouraged is, that you have a good cause. I mean the Cause of God and the concerns of Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly, the cause is good. The cause is worth contending for, worth suffering anything that may come for. No matter who may speak against it, no matter who may forsake it, no matter who may reproach and persecute it.

 

2. You have a Good Captain

Another reason for our comfort is that just as we have a good cause we also have a good Captain. Jesus Christ the Lord, who is the Captain and Prince of Salvation. He was never defeated. He sits at the right-hand of the Father, and will Reign there till He makes all his enemies His footstool.

 

3. You have Good Company

Another reason for our comfort is that just as we have a good cause and a good captain, we also have good company. All in these three nations who have in their hearts the fear of the Lord. More than this, we have all the saints that have lived since the beginning of the world. The cause they owned and suffered for, is one and the same, though there be various branches of it. We have also the blessed promises of God and the experience of all the saints. We also have our own experiences and many more things of that nature. O that we would recognise our privileges. This will strengthen our hearts to be sincere and steadfast in His work.

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