Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
A name applied to those who are pastors of a congregation, or preachers of God's word. They are also called divines, and may be distinguished into polemic, or those who possess controversial talents; casuistic, or those who resolve cases of conscience; experimental, those who address themselves to the feelings, cases, and circumstances of their hearers; and, lastly, practical, those who insist upon the performance of all those duties which the word of God enjoins. An able minister will have something of all these united in him, though he may not excel in all; and it becomes every one who is a candidate for the ministry to get a clear idea of each, that he may not be deficient in the discharge of that work which is the most important that can be sustained by mortal beings. Many volumes have been written on this subject, but we must be content in this place to offer only a few remarks relative to it. In the first place, then, it must be observed, that ministers of the Gospel ought to be sound as to their principles. They must be men whose hearts are renovated by divine grace, and whose sentiments are derived from the sacred oracles of divine truth. A minister without principles will never do any good; and he who professes to believe in a system, should see to it that it accords with the word of God. His mind should clearly perceive the beauty, harmony, and utility of the doctrines, while his heart should be deeply impressed with a sense of their value and importance.
2. They should be mild and affable as to their dispositions and deportment.
A haught imperious spirit is a disgrace to the ministerial character, and generally brings contempt. They should learn to bear injuries with patience, and be ready to do good to every one; be courteous to all without cringing to any; be affable without levity, and humble without pusillanimity; conciliating the affections without violating the truth; connecting a suavity of manners with a dignity of character, obliging without flattery; and throwing off all reserve without running into the opposite extreme of volubility and trifling.
3. They should be superior as to their knowledge and talents. Though many have been useful without what is called learning, yet none have been so without some portion of knowledge and wisdom. Nor has God Almighty ever sanctified ignorance, or consecrated it to his service; since it is the effect of the fall, and the consequence of our departure from the Fountain of intelligence. Ministers, therefore, especially, should endeavour to break these shackles, get their minds enlarged, and stored with all useful knowledge. The Bible should be well studied, and that, if possible, in the original language. The scheme of salvation by Jesus Christ should be well understood, with all the various topics connected with it. Nor will some knowledge of history, natural philosophy, logic, mathematics, and rhetoric, be useless. A clear judgment, also, with a retentive memory, inventive faculty, and a facility of communication should be obtained.
4. They should be diligent as to their studies. Their time especially should be improved, and not lost by too much sleep, formal visits, indolence, reading useless books, studying useless subjects. Every day should have its work, and every subject its due attention. Some advise a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and another in the Greek Testament, to be read every day. A well-chosen system of divinity should be accurately studied. The best definitions should be obtained, and a constant regard paid to all those studies which savour of religion, and have some tendency to public work.
5. Ministers should be extensive as to their benevolence and candour. A contracted bigoted spirit ill becomes those who preach a Gospel which breathes the purest benevolence to mankind. This spirit has done more harm among all parties than many imagine; and is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful engines the devil makes use of to oppose the best interests of mankind; and it is really shocking to observe how sects and parties have all, in their turns, anethematized each other. Now, while ministers ought to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, they must remember that men always will think different from each other; that prejudice of education has great influence; that difference of opinion as to non-essential things is not of such importance as to be a ground of dislike. Let the ministers of Christ, then, pity the weak, forgive the ignorant, bear with the sincere though mistaken zealot, and love all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. Ministers should be zealous and faithful in their public work. The sick must be visited; children must be catechised; the ordinances administered; and the word of God preached. These things must be taken up, not as a matter of duty only, but of pleasure, and executed with faithfulness; and, as they are of the utmost importance, ministers should attend to them with all that sincerity, earnestness, and zeal which that importance demands. An idle, frigid, indifferent minister is a pest to society, a disgrace to his profession, an injury to the church, and offensive to God himself.
7. Lastly, ministers should be uniform as to their conduct. No brightness of talent, no superiority of intellect, no extent of knowledge, will ever be a substitute for this. They should not only possess a luminous mind, but set a good example. This will procure dignity to themselves, give energy to what they say, and prove a blessing to the circle in which they move. In fine, they should be men of prudence and prayer, light and love, zeal and knowledge, courage and humility, humanity and religion.
See DECLAMATION. ELOQUENCE, PREACHING, and SERMONS, in this work; Dr. Smith's Lect. on the Sacred Office; Gerard's Pastoral Care; Macgill's Address to Young Clergymen; Chrysostom on the Priesthood; Baxter's Reformed Pastor; Burnett's Pastoral Care; Watt's Humble Attempt; Dr. Edwards's Preacher; Mason's Student and Pastor; Gibbon's Christian Minister; Mather's Student and Preacher; Osterwald's Lectures on the Sacred Ministry; Robinson's Claude; Doddridge's Lectures on Preaching and the Ministeral Office.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Minister'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/m/minister.html. 1802.