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DUTIES OF PREACHERS AND CHURCHES.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – As you have requested that I should write for the MESSENGER, and stated further that several of your correspondents have enquired why I do not write more, I have concluded to try it again on the subject relating to the duties of preachers of the gospel and the duties of churches. I would not afflict the feelings of any brother or sister, but wish to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance. It is a remarkable fact that for more than twenty years while the division of the Baptist denomination has been going on, many new and unscriptural doctrines have been introduced and preached by the many false teachers among us, who privily have brought in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. And many have followed their pernicious ways by reason of whom the way of truth has been, and is yet, evil spoken of. II Pet.2:1,2. And the time having fully come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears, they have turned their ears away from the truth and have been turned into fables. II Tim.4:3,4. This being the case, God’s ministers have been actively engaged in exposing every false way, by preaching the WORD, or salvation by grace alone; and having to contend with and oppose the many moneyed institutions gotten up professedly for the purpose of preparing, sending, and supporting ministers. They have been so disgusted, seeing the great lengths to which men have gone with their unscriptural moneyed institutions, that they have many of them, totally neglected to preach to the churches their duties toward their preachers in administering to their temporal necessities; which course was by no means justifiable; for it is evident that ministers of the gospel should never shun to declare any part of the counsel of God for fear of being considered, to some extent, like those teachers of anti-christ who make money, means, and works, their theme. It is human nature to desire arguments altogether unlike those of its opponents; but it is the spirit of the gospel that causes its ministers to look at, delight in, and preach its important doctrine without regard to what the enemies of the cross will think or say of them.

I will now bring forward some plain texts pointing out the duties of ministers of the gospel, and then endeavor to collect some passages relating to the duties of churches to their preachers, &c. I shall not refer to the direction given by Jesus to the twelve, or the seventy, before his crucifixion as binding now on ministers of the gospel, nor to the command given the Apostles after his resurrection, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, as being now equally binding upon ministers as it was upon the Apostles; because the first, sent forth to the lost sheep of the house of Israel only, fulfilled their commission fully, and the last sent forth, did as they were commanded, “For their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Rom.10:18. So that the gospel was preached to every creature which was under heaven in the Apostolic age. Col.1:23. So that Jesus, King of Zion, reigned in righteousness, and yet reigns; and the inspired Apostles ruled in judgment, whose writings we yet have; {Isa.32:1,} until the gospel church was fully set up and established, with a full and complete rule of faith and practice, until time shall end. In the direction given by the inspired Apostles to ministers of the gospel, we find such as the following, Acts 20:28, Paul’s charge to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.” This text not only charges ministers to be careful to watch over, or take heed unto themselves, but to the flock or church, over which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers, to feed the church, by preaching to them the gospel, not the law, nor the doctrines and commandments of men; and again, the directions given by Paul to Timothy and Titus, are immediately applicable to preachers of the gospel now, such as, “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith; so do.” I Tim.1:4. Again, after writing what the Spirit had expressly spoken, that in the latter times some should depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God had created to be received with thanksgiving, &c., he says, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” I Tim.4:6. Again, 14th, 15th, and 16th verses, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” Here the minister is directed to warn the brethren against false teachers, who are very numerous in this day and age. He is also directed to meditate upon these things, and give himself wholly to them. Again, in the sixth chapter, and some of the first verses, after speaking of the duties of servants to their masters, and of masters to their servants, he says, “These things teach and exhort;” again, 17th, and 18th verses, same chapter, “Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” Again, II Tim.2:14,15. After charging him against being entangled with the affairs of this life, and exhorting the saints, and particularly to patience in suffering for Christ’s sake, he says, “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Again, II Tim.4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering, and doctrine.” This last text includes everything enjoined upon the preachers of the gospel; because it directs him to preach, and what to preach; and never to neglect his duty because he may not feel prepared to discharge it, or to neglect the churches to pursue the avocations of this life, but to be at his place, in season, out of season, and reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering, and doctrine. And it is as important now as ever it was, that preachers should be actively engaged, for the time has come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and have turned away their ears from the truth, and have been turned into fables.

As all will agree that it is the duty of preachers to strictly attend to the churches they agree to serve, I will ask, Will not all agree also that every church member is equally bound to attend their regular meetings? Church members who neglect to attend their meetings regularly, unless providentially hindered, violate gospel order! Such negligent church members, by their absence, place those who do attend regularly in such a situation that they cannot attend to their duties profitably. And it would be unreasonable to suppose that such church members as neglect to attend their meetings regularly would feel much interest on the part of their preacher, not even enough to feel constrained to pray for him, that his services might be profitable to the church, much less in administering to his temporal necessities; which should not be neglected by church members, as the following texts plainly prove. Paul on this subject in his first letter to the Corinthians, 9th chapter and 7th verse, says, “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock and eateth not of the milk of the flock?” Verse 9, “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” Verse 11, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” But many; yea, all God’s ministers in this day, when so many are preaching a doctrine making salvation dependant on temporal things, can in reality adopt the language of Paul, and say, {12th verse,} “If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.” Even so, no doubt, many preachers of the gospel have really suffered loss abundantly, spending their time in the service of churches who have administered little or nothing to their temporal necessities, though it was what they were justly entitled to; yet because such a great noise has been made by the preachers of anti-christ about means and money to support their hireling preachers, true preachers of the gospel have suffered all things lest they should hinder the gospel of Christ. But is it not high time that the churches, without being urged by their preachers, should notice with deep interest the language of the following verse, {14,} “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” How can a preacher of the gospel devote his time in the service of three or four churches and receive little or nothing from them to supply the temporal wants of himself and family? It is unreasonable, and it is unrighteous in churches to exact or require it. As I have often said, so I will say again, any preacher who will hire himself to preach, by the day, month, or year, is unworthy of the name of a preacher; and any church, or churches, who will have the services of a preacher, and not contribute liberally to his temporal necessities, are altogether unworthy of a preacher; and sooner or later such churches will be made destitute, as a righteous judgment from the God of all grace. May God pity Zion in her low and languid state, and cause his children all diligently to discharge every duty he has enjoined on them in his holy word, is my humble prayer for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Yours in gospel bonds,
D.W. Patman.
Oglethorpe Co., Georgia, March 10, 1853.