Ministerial Pride -- By: Richard Baxter

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 01:1 (Jan 2009)
Article: Ministerial Pride
Author: Richard Baxter

Ministerial Pride

Richard Baxter

One of our most heinous and palpable sins is pride. This is a sin which has too much sway in most ministers, but which is more hateful and inexcusable in us than in other men. Yet is it so prevalent in some of us, that it fills our discourses, it chooses our company, it forms our countenances, it puts the accent and emphasis upon our words. It fills some men’s minds with aspiring desires and designs. It possesses them with envious and bitter thoughts against those who stand in their light, or who by any means eclipse their glory, or hinder the progress of their reputation. Oh what a constant companion, what a tyrannical commander, what a sly and subtle insinuating enemy, is this sin of pride! It goes with men to the draper, the mercer, the tailor: it chooses them their cloth, their trimming and their fashion. Fewer ministers would ruffle it out in the fashion in hair and clothing, if it were not for the command of this tyrannous vice.

I wish that this were all, or the worst. But, alas, how frequently does pride go with us to our study, and there sit with us and do our work! How oft does it choose our subject, and, more frequently still, our words and ornaments! God commands us to be as plain as we can — that we may inform the ignorant; and as convincing and serious as we are able — that we may melt and change their hardened hearts. But pride stands by and contradicts all, and produces its toys and trifles. It pollutes, rather than polishes. And, under presence of laudable ornaments, dishonors our sermons with childish things, as if a prince were to be decked in the clothes of a stage-player, or a painted fool. Pride persuades us to paint the window, that it may dim the light, and to speak to our people that which they cannot understand, to let them know that we are able to speak unprofitably. If we have a plain and cutting passage, it takes off the edge, and dulls the life of our preaching, under presence of filing off the roughness, unevenness, and

excess. When God charges us to deal with men as for their lives, and to beseech them with all the earnestness that we are able; this cursed sin controls all, and condemns the most holy commands of God, and says to us, “What! Will you make people think you are mad? Will you make them say you rage or rave? Cannot you speak soberly and moderately?” And thus does pride make many a man’s sermons! And what pride makes the devil makes, and what sermons the devil will make and to what end, we may easily conjecture. Though the matter is of God — yet if the dress, and manner, and end is from Satan — we have no great reason t...

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